Business Writing For Dummies, 2nd Edition
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Here are some ways to do the best job proofing your own business writing, or someone else’s. They’re based on hard-won experience and using them can save you all that trial and error.
  1. Use a system so your proofreading is systematic and clear.
  2. Make sure in the case of a major document to keep an original unedited version.
  3. Try to proofread when your eyes and mind are fresh, and take frequent breaks.
  4. Proofread more than once — ideally three times — and allow some time between sessions.
  5. Carefully check sentences before and after every change you make, because editing usually generates new errors.
  6. Pay special attention to the places where you find an error, because errors often clump together (perhaps you were tired when you wrote that part).
  7. Look for words that are often misspelled.

    Every grammar book has these lists or you can easily find one online; keep a copy on your desk.

  8. Examine all the “little words,” including on, in, at, the, for, to.

    They may repeat or go missing without your noticing if you don’t pay attention.

  9. Look up all words you aren’t sure about.

    Choose a dictionary you like, or just Google the word.

  10. Triple-check names, titles, numbers, subheads, and headlines.
  11. Rest your eyes regularly, especially if you’re proofreading on-screen.

    Looking out a window into the distance helps. So does setting your computer screen to a comfortable brightness.

  12. Try enlarging the on-screen type for easier viewing — but not so much that you don’t see the whole sentence, paragraph, or section.
  13. Read challenging portions of text backwards.

    This approach helps a lot with material that is highly technical or contains numbers.

  14. Resist relying solely on your computer’s or smartphone’s auto-correct feature.

    The more aggressive these systems get, the more big mistakes and potential disasters they introduce.

  15. Recheck all the places where a mistake would prove most embarrassing: headlines, lead sentences, quotes.

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book author:

Natalie Canavor's career spans national magazine editing, journalism, corporate communications and public relations. Her writing for business media, professional audiences and The New York Times have won dozens of national and international awards. She has taught advanced writing seminars for NYU and conducts frequent workshops.

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