Welcome Nikolas Baron and his insight to proofreading!
My Proofreading Love Affair
I’ve been in a long-term affair with proofreading. It teases relentlessly, beckoning me to spend quality time with my text, reading and re-reading. Like any lover, it has subtly pushed me in the right direction when my writing was sprawled out, like a mad man being forced to meditate. I must admit, this affair I have really has been a love-hate relationship. There are some days I look into the mirror and attribute my newfound balding patch to the atrocities of mundane editing.
Proofreading can be quite a monster when approached the wrong way. If correcting your manuscript is causing you to morph into a miserable, declawed cat, then in the words of Steve Jobs, “there must be a better way.”
Manual Proofreading Techniques
Take a break. If you’ve already been saturated with words all day, there’s no use cramming in an entire chapter just to get the work done. Proofreading is a lot like a running a marathon: you have to pace yourself well, remembering to take breaks to rest your eyes frequently. The more tired you are, the easier it is to miss out on minor little details.
Some authors suggest slowing down your reading pace, reading out loud, or reading it backwards. All these eccentricities reduce the speed at which you skim past your work and it forces your brain to recognize each sentence, word for word. Think of this technique like dating. You want to take it slow and embrace the moment. My personal favorite method to make your brain decelerate is to print out your manuscript, turn it around so that the print faces the other way, and read from right to left.
Creating a checklist is also fundamental to ensure that you are aware of every possible mistake that could have been made in the language. Punctuation, spelling, sentence structure, contractions, passive voice; if it helps you to focus, do the points individually, looking out for a different mistake each time you run through your text.
Of course, before committing whether in love or writing, it’s always best to get a second opinion. Send your manuscript to a trusted friend or better yet, get a writing buddy to keep tabs on your progress, act as a soundboard for your ideas, and also to get that invaluable second opinion from a fellow writer.
Before I introduce two awesome programs to you, I need to highlight that proofreading software was never built to replace the human brain. Humans still trump any proofreader out there as only manual laboring will allow you to invoke the tone to produce really stirring writing. What proofreading programs provide is a shortcut to greatly decrease the time you spend on editing.
One program you can try is Ginger Review, which can be downloaded onto your laptop and installed into most word processors as an application. A great thing about Ginger is their text-to-speech function where a digital voice can read out your entire manuscript. This can make editing a walk in the park without having to strain your vocal cords.
Finally, we have Grammarly, an intuitive program that can highlight more than 150 text errors, give detailed explanations of your errors, and check for plagiarism all at the same time. Your entire manuscript will take less than a minute to proofread with this genius software. The user friendly and clean interface also provides an excellent user experience. The cherry on top of the cake is Grammarly’s support community where any and every question you have regarding the complexities of the language will be answered by one of Grammarly’s language enthusiasts.
Proofreading is hard work, but like they say, if it’s not hard, it’s not worth doing. Then again, if your brain feels like it’s about to explode, stop. With the technology available today, writers have a much easier time reaching the pinnacle of perfection.
Nikolas discovered his love for the written word in Elementary School, where he started spending his afternoons sprawled across the living room floor devouring one Marc Brown childrens’ novel after the other and writing short stories about daring pirate adventures. After acquiring some experience in various marketing, business development, and hiring roles at internet startups in a few different countries, he decided to re-unite his professional life with his childhood passions by joining Grammarly’s marketing team in San Francisco. He has the pleasure of being tasked with talking to writers, bloggers, teachers, and others about how they use Grammarly’s online proofreading application to improve their writing. His free time is spent biking, travelling, and reading.