Our proofreading course students find that English can be a difficult language to proofread, especially for non-native speakers.

Even if the grammar rules are pretty straightforward and logical, there are still times when a text can sound rigid and the proofreader may have a hard time discovering what exactly the problem is.

It may be the verb tense, it may be the sentence structure and sometimes it can even be both. We cover issues like this on our online proofreading course

Nobody likes to read a text that doesn’t flow naturally or doesn’t engage the reader into action. However, rigidity can be easily avoided if you pay attention to certain elements.

Take a look below at these five proofreading tips that can help you change those elements that make a piece of content sound uninviting:

  1. Understand the difference between formal and informal. Formal and informal English differ in many ways: grammatical structure, word choice and even word usage. To make sure that you are removing rigidity from a text, always choose informal writing, as it helps the text sound more conversational and makes the readers feel more comfortable with the words.
  2. Work better with the verbs. Change the full form of a verb into a contraction. The full form is usually used in formal correspondence and academic writing and its purpose is to create an authoritative atmosphere. But your reader will definitely respond better to words like “it’s”, “don’t” or “can’t”. Even more, try to use the passive voice less and active voice more, as the latter makes the text more dynamic.
  3. Use personal pronouns. A friendly text will always be the one who talks to the readers and not at them. Those phrases that are trying to be as objective as possible sound very stiff and can drive the reader away. For example, a sentence like “You should improve your skills by taking a proofreading course” will always sound better than “One should improve their skills by taking a proofreading course”.
  4. Use linking words. Linking words have the power to transform paragraphs that are just flying around independently into a coherent, tight piece of content. Use transitional adverbs such as “additionally”, “nevertheless”, “therefore” or “alternatively” to help the text flow and make more sense to the reader.
  5. Change the length of the sentence. Transform long, heavy sentences into short, easy-to-read ones. Formal writing usually employs long sentences, to create an academic mood.

However, short sentences add clarity to your writing and can be particularly effective when trying to catch the reader’s attention.

For example, would you find pleasure into reading a sentence like “It has come to my attention that distance learning proofreading courses may deepen my knowledge, brain functionality and my speech coherence”? The alternative may be more interesting: “I think proofreading courses can help me improve my language skills”.

All in all, you can see how easy your proofreading task can become once you recognize those elements that burden the fluency of the text.

Employing the rules above can help you shape the text you’re proofreading into a friendlier and clearer one.

See our proofreading courses