Did you know?

  • Commas and periods always go inside the closing quotation mark.*
  • Semicolons and colons always go outside the closing quotation mark.*
  • Question marks and exclamation marks sometimes go inside or sometimes outside the closing quotation mark.*

When it comes to proofreading, there are so many grammar rules to follow, so many words to spell correctly, and the list goes on.

There’s no foolproof formula for perfect proofreading every time (although that’s our goal here), but these proofreading tips should help you find your errors before anyone else does.

  • Look for one type of error at a time. Read through the text several times. Concentrate on sentence structure, then spelling, and then punctuation.
  • Don’t proof on screen. Review hard copy. Print out text and review it line by line. Use a ruler under each line of text or run your finger under the text.
  • Read the text out loud. You may hear a problem that you didn’t see.
  • Use and trust a dictionary. A spellchecker is good to use as a first screening, but don’t depend on it. Spellchecker can tell you if a word is a word, but not if it’s the right word.
  • Review grammar rules if you are in doubt. There are many resources online if you don’t have a reference manual to refer to.
  • Keep a list of words that you always have to look up or mistakes you commonly make and refer to it when you are proofreading.
  • When you are all done, go back and read the text backwards to focus on the spelling of words only. You may be surprised that you find words misspelled that you didn’t catch before.
  • Be sure to go back and proof headings. They are easy to overlook when proofing text.
  • Review page numbers and footer / header material for accuracy and correct order.
  • Do the math to make sure calculations are correct. Double-check facts, figures, phone numbers and proper names. Make sure all information is accurate.
  • Take a break between writing and proofing. When you come back to it, you will be more likely to spot errors.
  • Ideally have someone else proof your text. A new set of eyes may spot errors that you have overlooked.

Remember – you are trying to find mistakes. Assume you will and look for them.
Happy proofing!

*Preferred American Style