Imagine you are working on a critical report for your boss. You spend days researching and writing it. You double-check all facts and figures to make sure there are no errors.
You submit the report and expect your boss to praise your hard work. Instead, she calls you into her office and shows you a copy of your report in which she has marked errors. Your report is riddled with spelling errors, grammatical mistakes and even formatting inconsistencies. You feel mortified.
What was the one key step of writing that you missed? You didn’t proofread your work.
What is Proofreading?
Proofreading is the process of reading, editing, and reviewing the final draft of any piece of writing. This important process ensures internal structure and coherence, literary consistency, and syntactical accuracy in grammar. Proofreading involves checking spelling, punctuation, and formatting.
The importance of proofreading in business communication is unparalleled. It is essential for creating an error-free document that has a professional touch.
What are the proofreading techniques?
Refresh and read
Once you finish writing an exhaustive report you may wonder how to proofread it. The best thing you can do is refresh your mind. Take a few minutes to clear your head. Proofreading requires a fresh perspective. You need to get out of the writer’s mindset to get into a proofreader’s mindset. Relax, get a cup of coffee, and then begin reading the document from a third-person point of view.
Read it out, aloud
One of the best proofreading techniques is reading the document aloud. Grammatical mistakes tend to stand out when something is spoken out loud. A sentence that seems fine on paper may sound stilted or awkwardly phrased when spoken. Reading a document aloud also helps you check if the punctuation is correct. You can catch various mistakes by listening to the words and seeing whether they sound right or not.
Remove the excessive content
When you are proofreading your writing you might find some extra words or points that can be removed. If a point has already been supported with enough reasons and examples, see if the rest of the information is relevant. Similarly, tighten sentences to make them crisper. Business writing is not like literary writing. Remove adverbs, adjectives, and unnecessary turns of phrase. This will help make the document precise and easy to read.
Avoid the jargon
Every industry has technical terms and jargon. However, your piece of business writing should not have so much jargon that it is difficult to understand. While proofreading, ensure that the document is easily understood by everyone. This includes using simple and crisp language. If you use specific terms that not many people might understand, make sure you also explain them simply.
Review the flow of writing
To ensure that the content flows well, use the PREP model to structure your points. PREP stands for Point, Reason, Example, Point. In this model, you begin by stating the main Point first. After that, you provide Reasons to support your point. This is followed by relevant Examples that illustrate your point. Finally, you state the Point again to emphasize it.
The importance of proofreading lies in the accuracy it can lend your writing.. When you are going over the document with a fresh eye, recheck the facts and figures given. Make sure all the sources are correctly cited. Proofreading helps remove mistakes in names, terms, and statistics, which can cause problems down the road if left uncorrected. This is why proofreading involves checking the accuracy of the data in the document.
Check the numbers, again
Numbers can be tricky. If you have done original research to compile your data, go over the numbers carefully when you proofread the document. Even a misplaced comma or extra zero can make a huge difference. Check the tables of statistical data as well as the graphs, pie charts, and other models. Paying extra attention to decimal points and zeros is an important practice in proofreading.
Pay attention to sentence structuring
Sentence structuring is important. Reread the statements repeatedly and look for ways to make them compact, crisp, and easy to understand. This involves checking the tenses, identifying the clauses, and correcting the active and passive voice. One helpful way to do this is to read sentences aloud while proofreading. Your ear will be able to pick up errors in sentence construction.
Make use of free software
If you are wondering how to proofread, check out the free software available online. Word processing software has in-built dictionaries as well as spelling and grammar checkers. It is important not to automatically make every change the software suggests. Look at the suggested change in the context and ask yourself if it is valid. Remember, just like humans, machines can also make mistakes!
Ask a friend or a co-worker
All said and done, one of the best proofreading techniques is to get a second pair of eyes. A fresh eye can always catch mistakes or errors that you are likely to miss. When you ask a friend or colleague to proofread your document, give them enough time to do the work properly. Last-minute proofreading can cause more problems than it solves. Make sure you contextualize the piece of writing before sharing it with someone else.
Harappa Education offers a course called ‘Writing proficiently‘ which talks about the importance of proofreading., The tools and concepts in the course will help you improve your proofreading skills for business and professional writing in merely a few hours. With the help of world-class professional faculty, you can master effective proofreading techniques and impress your superiors with flawless reports and business documents.
Explore topics such as Report Writing, the Pyramid Principle, the Process of Writing, the Steps on How to Write a Report and the 7 C’s of Communication from our Harappa Diaries blog section to build your skills for workplace success.
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