How to use proofreading tools to your advantage


At the start of a proofreading course, you will likely learn that the tried and tested methods for making corrections are still vital.

These techniques rely on marking corrections needed by using pen and paper. However, there are tools available that can assist the proofreading process.

These essential tools now include software for editing, spellcheckers and grammar checking.

The growth of online proofreading courses has aimed to help proofreaders to make the best use of proofreading tools.

It is essential that the limits of these tools are understood and how they may be used together. With these methods and tools, professional proofreaders aim to make text accurate and consistent to a chosen house style.

Today, the skills for proofreading can be learned on college courses from home.

Firstly for editing software, Microsoft Word is widely used with support for markup corrections and it also has a built-in grammar and spellchecker.

Microsoft Word’s track changes records corrections in a document and allows proofreaders and authors to see a document’s progress.

Changes can be accepted or rejected as agreed by the people working on the document.

Distance learning proofreading courses will also encourage their students to look at other tools with two good examples being PerfectIt and Grammarly

PerfectIt checks for a consistent approach. It can highlight likely errors and ensure your house style is followed.

Checks on spelling variation, common typos and punctuation are all part of PerfectIt

In formal documents, you need to check if an abbreviation is defined just once when it is first used. This can be a time-consuming task.

The PerfectIt tool can do these types of checks automatically in software. A table of abbreviations can be generated that can be used with Microsoft Word.

Writing courses reference these sorts of tools and what they can offer to help guide their students in the processes involved in proofreading.

Proofreading requires a close attention to detail. The features provided by PerfectIt can offer great support to a proofreader.

Grammarly, however, extends the spelling and grammar checks found in Microsoft Word by, for instance, assessing whether a word has been used in the right context.

For example, words such as there, their or they’re can be checked in a sentence ensuring correct usage. Over 250 grammar rules can also be checked in a document. Tests find, for example, when a singular verb has been used when it should have been plural.

Word choice suggestions in a sentence are also part of GrammarlyThe aim is to try and make documents more easily understood. This tool can be used in emails, documents and social media posts. However, they are not able to find all the errors in a document.

So what is the best way of adopting these proofreading tools?

Well, good distance learning courses, for example, will normally advise you it is sound practice to proofread in stages.

Firstly, you could look for spelling mistakes and then you could check for errors in grammar.

This could be followed by checks for any house style problems. Manual checks, however, should always be done by a proofreader.

For the individual stages of checking, one method can be to use the proofreading tools at the beginning to highlight and give an initial feel for the errors present.

A manual check could then be done with the use of the tools again at the end to see if you have missed anything. These steps could be repeated until you feel confident to conduct one last final manual check to ensure you have an error free document.

See our proofreading and editing course