During your proofreading course you’ll learn how to spot and amend errors. But when we look at something, we sometimes see what our brain tells us is there rather than what’s actually there.
Our proofreading course students find that if you’re proofreading a document, this can mean your brain is convinced a sentence is correct when in fact there’s a subtle error that you just can’t see for looking.
The problem can especially arise in a piece of text that has been heavily edited. If paragraphs have been moved around and rewritten, sentences chopped and changed, and different drafts merged together, you run the risk of skimming over a small but crucial error.
This might take the form of an extra or missing article (‘a’, ‘an’, ‘the’) or conjunction (‘and’, ‘or’). These little words are so familiar and commonly used that the brain can interpret a sentence correctly, even though it contains errors.
Here are a few tips to help you catch these pesky little mistakes:
- Slow down – force your brain to interpret each word correctly. Start by studying your proofreading course materials slowly
- Take regular breaks – make sure your eyes are always fresh and your mind clear
- Double and triple check the copy, but make each read count – if you skim over the error once you’ll probably do it the second and third times too
- If possible, print out a hard copy – be sure to study it without distractions
- Read it aloud – mistakes will be easier to spot as your brain is forced to focus on what’s actually on the page
The important thing is to pay attention to every word, making sure they’re all present, correct and in the right order.
After all, your brain is a wonderful thing, but you have to be careful it doesn’t develop a mind of its own!
See our proofreading courses