- Take a deep breath
Often when I’m starting a new assignment, I think of that scene in The Next Karate Kid, when Hilary Swank finally learns she can only land a certain jump if she centers herself by pausing for a moment before the jump. This actually works in real life, too. I find that if I pause for a moment before switching tasks, rather than jumping right into them, I am more focused and productive. I’m like the next karate kid of public relations in Cincinnati!
- Print it out
I’ve discovered that I hardly miss edits if I’m proofreading from a hard copy. Proofreading straight from the computer screen leaves more opportunity to skim over an edit.
- Read it backwards
Our minds are trained to fill in blanks and make sense of copy. So if you’re reading through a paragraph as you normally would, you might not see there is a missing “a.” If you start from the bottom and read backwards, you’ll focus more on each word, leaving less opportunity to miss mistakes.
- Wait a while
If you’re proofreading your own writing, make sure you set it aside for at least a half hour before you begin proofreading. This will give you a fresh perspective when you come back to it.
- Read it out loud
Sometimes you can only tell if a sentence is too long or awkward if you read it out loud. It might sound like a silly thing to do, but it works!
Punctuation can also be a tricky subject when it comes to proofreading. Click here for a New York Times article about common comma mistakes.
What other tricks do you do when proofreading?