What Does Proofreading Mean: Definitive Guide

What Does Proofreading Mean: Definitive Guide

Proofreading is a huge part of the writing process. Even though many students think that the work on the paper ends once they finish the last paragraph, the truth is that revision and proofreading are essential to the quality of their text as well.

However, not all people realize how significant and important this part of work is. That is why, aiming to help you to improve the quality of your writing, we have decided to provide you with a definition of proofreading as well as an extensive list of things one can try doing when proofreading their text. So, let’s start in the beginning by answering the question “what is proofreading?”.

What is proofreading?

The definition of proofreading is as follows: it is checking of the text with the aim to detect any and all possible flaws and errors in it. Given that we are all human, we often make mistakes when typing by simply missing the correct button or skipping a letter when typing in a hurry.

That is why we need to proofread our articles in order to improve their quality. The mistakes in your texts do not imply that you lack knowledge or common sense but rather show that you might have been in a hurry when you made them.

So, it’s easy to define proofreading but is it easy to proofread? Apart from checking for typos and errors, one should also check each sentence to see whether it makes sense in the context it is used in. Besides, one should also pay attention to the flow of the writing which is basically the way your article reads. Do your readers have to stop and read some parts again to understand the meaning? Are there complex constructions which can be replaced with simpler analogues?

Such questions are a part of definition for proofreading. Think of how you brush your teeth. Even though some people believe that just brushing them with a toothbrush is enough for health, using a dental floss can significantly improve the general condition of your gums and teeth. So, after you have finished what you have been working on, don’t just brush over your piece, but use detailed analysis to eliminate all of the mistakes you might have made.

Now, if you already agree that editing is vital to the text quality, let’s move on from the proofreading definition to the actual process of checking your text using several practical steps.

Steps to successful proofreading

Now, as we presented proofread definition, and know the answer to an important question “What does proofreading mean?”, consider using our tips one by one to achieve the best possible results with the help of your writing.

1. Don’t start right away.
The best professionals on proofreading explain that it is better to start proofreading after some time has passed since the piece was finished. The thing is that you have worked so hard on it for extended period of time that when reading it, you can quote it in your head. Thus, to avoid this, spend some time away from the article. You will rest, forget what you wrote exactly, and get a better perspective on both the points made and means you used to create a piece.

Also, it is often easier to see the flaws in someone else’s writing rather than in your own. So, when proofreading something you are no longer attached to, you get to see the text through the eyes of people who have little to no connection to it.

2. Change the document to make it different.
If you don’t have two days to leave your paper aside and wait, you can also try changing the formatting of a piece in order to look at it differently. For instance, you can modify the font size or make different paragraphs of different colours. It will distract you and make you look at the text from a different angle.

Also, we highly recommend you printing it all out. When you look at it on paper, you might think of it in a new way. One thing is what appears on your screen, but when you can touch it and see it closely, your perspective may change.

So, you can try changing the format of your text in order to modify the way you think about it. It’s important to perform high quality proofreading meaning you have to sometimes find creative ways to do it.

3. Proofread different parts at the different time.
You know what proofreading mean: checking. But definition proofreading has includes nothing about the time limit. That is why, for better efficiency of text editing, we recommend you splitting it into several parts and reading each of them at a different time. You can even take long breaks between checking each section. One can take up to a couple of days.

However, one should also read the whole piece in the end in order to see how one paragraph flows into the other. There must be uniformity in your text, so all parts should be connected one to the other logically as well as with the aid of transition words and phrases.

4. Use the technological solution to check spelling.
From the definition proofread has it is clear that it takes much time. In case you don’t have enough time to do it yourself, you can use the aid of special proofreading services online proofreading marks also known as spell checkers. As you see from their name, they focus on checking the spelling. Having an extensive vocabulary, such programs can identify possibly confused words and prepositions, highlight words which have minor typos, and underline places with so-called wordiness.

All you have to do then is to pick an option among the ones suggested by the tool and add it to your text instead of the one you used before.

However, we also recommend you checking the spelling yourself, as the tools are still machines and they might miss some errors. They can identify where you misused the word “their” instead of “there” based on the sentence structure but they might miss such things in complex sentences.

5. Identify mistakes you make most frequently.
Some professionals even recommend having a special log in which you register all the mistakes you make on a regular basis.

To identify them, you can ask your tutor for advice or opinion: since they check your works frequently, they can say for sure what mistakes you are most likely to make while writing.

Meanwhile, if you are not a student, you can analyze several pieces you crafted to see the general tendencies. After a thorough analysis, you can write the results down and save them as a log for future. Then, when you need to check your writing, you will be able to concentrate on the exact type of your errors. This will save you a lot of time.

6. Analyze every punctuation mark.
Instead of scanning for mistakes in general, you can analyze each punctuation mark taking one at a time. You can read your text out loud to see whether commas you used as well as other marks are in the right places and whether you need them there at all.

Correct mistakes one by one and make sure to consult textbooks every time you have doubts.

7. Read the text out loud slowly.
Most of the people go fast from one sentence to another instead of stopping and analyzing each individual sentence. Therefore, to achieve better results, we highly recommend you reading your piece very slowly.

Also, by doing this, you get to focus not only on different parts of the text but also on each word individually. So, for instance, instead of quickly sliding through each piece, you get to analyze each possible error and thus, don’t miss anything important.

So, read it out loud to yourself.

8. Ask someone to read it for you.
This might also help because when someone else reads your composition to you, you realize what parts are hard for them to deal with as well as on which words and phrases they stop. Besides, you can ask this person to tell you what exactly they would suggest to change or what exact parts they would advise you to develop more.

Note on what sentences your reader stuttered and edit them first once they finish reading.

So, ask for help as it might help you a lot.

9. Go through a document backwards.
It might sound weird or like something a professional would never do, but in fact this method can be of much help for people looking for fresh ideas on how to achieve better results when proofreading an article.

The thing is that when you read it from the end to the start, you get to focus on each sentence separately without having the whole context before your eyes.

So, you will gain a better understanding of how a person not familiar with the matter sees what you have written and whether everything is clear for someone without a deep knowledge of the topic.

So, use this method if it sounds like something you need!

10. Check the citation format.
Proofreading definition is not always associated with the format requirements. However, it should be, as this part is also crucial. If you are quoting famous people in your text, you need to ensure that the citation you used is correct. Consult the trusted source about the requirements or if you are a student, check the assignment given to you. Most schools have some essay templates and proofreading marks on their websites, so one can save those and analyze whether everything they wrote in their piece complies with the requirements.

Remember that no matter whether you are a blogger revising your articles or a student working on an essay, mistakes can damage the image you have created and that is definitely not what you want.

11. Make it clear.
We highly recommend explaining all the unknown terms you are using in your text. Do not assume that you and your readers are on the same page about certain things. It is better to make everything clear from the beginning. Besides, it is also a good idea to make sure that all the pronouns in your text are clear in the sense that readers can easily understand what or who they refer to.

Wrapping it all up, we would only like to mention that proofreading can be a huge help, as thanks to all the effort you invest in it, you get an excellent piece in the end which not only satisfies the most demanding readers but also brings you real joy!