Nothing is more embarrassing to a company than to put out a brochure or newsletter riddled with typos, misspelled words or grammatical errors. A writer or editor who can produce error-free content is worth their weight in gold. Applying your writing skills to offering proofreading or editing services can open a whole new door for building a successful freelance career.
Still, becoming an efficient proofreader isn’t as simple as picking up a red pen and going for it. It takes time and practice to develop the skills you need to ferret out errors in a document. Once you master the art of proofreading, however, the rewards will be well worth it. Experienced proofreaders are in high demand and will earn you extra work from clients.
Consider these strategies for enhancing your skills as a proofreader:
Take practice proofreading tests. Even if you proofread for a living, it doesn’t hurt to brush up on the basics. Many writing resource sites offer practice tests where you can test your proofreading knowledge. It will help you learn previously unfamiliar rules or catch mistakes that occasionally slip into your own work.
Get coaching from experienced proofreaders. Do not make the mistake of trying to rely solely on self-education. Visit your local college or university and talk to English instructors. Consult with professional editors from local newspapers or magazines. Pick their brains and let them show you how it is done. Many of these professionals will be more than happy to offer you advice on how to improve your proofreading skills.
Adopt effective proofreading habits. It’s easy to let mistakes slip past if you get sloppy in how you approach proofreading. Create a routine that will help you find and fix errors easier. Some proofreaders find it effective to read the text backwards. Others will read it out loud to see how things sound. Adopt proofreading habits that will sharpen your focus so you can see all the little details you need to see.
Give yourself time. Proofreading jobs should never be rushed or put off until the last minute. The most effective proofreaders will read through a document multiple times before sending it off to be published. Give yourself enough time to catch and fix as many errors as possible. A good strategy is to proofread for spelling, then proofread for grammar, then proofread for punctuation. This lets you focus on one thing at a time.
John C is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.