No feeling is more excited, antsy and dancy than waiting to see your latest masterpiece published online. But that elation screeches down the spectrum to humiliation when you find a grammar error screaming at you in the first line. Sure, that misspelled word is the same 14-point Ariel as the rest of the page, but it might as well be bold, flashing red and have a giant neon arrow pointing to it.
The artistry of words is what draws many of us towards writing web content, but the science of proofreading is just as important. Like any other science, proofreading requires practice to hone your skills and experimentation to find the strategies that work best for you.
Leave time for proofreading
Why is it that the creative juices never start flowing until the deadline is looming? If the muses don’t show their faces until the last minute, there is no time left to proofread after the content is written. To avoid submitting unchecked work to beat the clock, set a mental deadline one hour before the actual time limit. By creating an artificial deadline, and sticking to it, you will always have enough time to proof your content. Give yourself bonus points if you can schedule a break between the writing and proofreading processes. The time away from the piece will let you come back to it with fresh eyes and allow your mind to switch from a creative mode to an analytical one.
Don’t read. Analyze
Proofreading is more than rereading your work. When you read, it’s easy to focus on patting yourself on the back for your quirky metaphors and wonder if you could create a more attention-grabbing introduction. But, you are likely to miss the incorrectly used word or the incorrect comma. Analyze your work by reading it out of order. Start with the last sentence and scrutinize each word and phrase individually. Then, move on to the next-to-last sentence and keep reading backward until you finish at the start.
Change the context
How many hours a day do you spend looking at your computer screen? The same program, font, and size day after day and hour after hour. Over time your brain sees what it expects to be there; it’s on autopilot. Give your proofreading a jolt by switching up the routine. Read your work out loud, tossing in a fake accent from time to time. Reading a blog post while imitating a British lady might make you giggle, but it will also force your brain to process the words in a new way and make errors more apparent. You can also enlarge the text size, switch up the font, and print a hard copy. Anything you can do to break the routine and change the context will help take your mind out of autopilot and encourage it to see the grammar error speed bumps that are in the way.
Writer Bio: Michelle S is a fulltime freelance writer specializing in fashion, travel, and nonprofit writing. If you find any errors in this post, she left them there like Easter eggs to check your proofreading skills.