How to improve your proofreading

All documents benefit from a second pair of eyes proofreading and/or copyediting to check for errors. When you have been working on a document for some time your eyes trick you into seeing the word as it is supposed to be—not what is always on the page.

However, if you have to proofread your own documents, following are some tips to reduce the number of errors in your document.

  1. Set your dictionary to English (Australia) not the default (U.S.), this will ensure that all spelling in your document is for Australian audiences.
  2. Beware of apostrophes and contractions. People often confuse your and you’re, there or they’re and its and it’s. Using the wrong word can reduce your document’s message.
  3. Use of capitals need to be consistent and correct. When there needs to be a capital use it, but also know when not to; i.e. Australian Government uses capitals for both Australian and Government, however, when referring to ‘the government’ a capital is not used.
  4. When using abbreviations ensure that you have spelt out the abbreviation in its entirety in the first instance before using the abbreviation further in the document; i.e. Request for Tender (RFT).
  5. Ensure consistency when writing numerals—generally numbers one to ten are written, with numbers 11 onwards displayed in their numerical form. Therefore, when you have written five in your document, ensure you haven’t written it as 5 elsewhere.
  6. Carefully check formatting. Make sure page numbers and headers and footers are correct; and that the font, headings and their sizes are consistent.
  7. Ensure you read through your document at least twice and when reviewing make sure you read letter-by-letter rather than absorbing whole sentences.
  8. Read it out loud, sometimes your ears can pick up the words that your eyes might miss.

Clear, error-free documents will add credibility to your message and display your attention-to-detail.

If you feel your work could benefit from a professional proofreader and editor please contact Katie to discuss your requirements.