proofreading courseOur proofreading course explains the need for accurate spelling and punctuation when proofreading and editing a document or website.

Learn to check your spelling

A proofreader’s spelling needs to be perfect. You will probably know if your spelling is weak, strong or somewhere in between. Most of us have our “weak words”, that is, those we are prone to getting wrong.

A boy was once reprimanded by his teacher for misspelling a word. “You should have looked it up in the dictionary,” she told him.

He replied: “Why would I look it up if I didn’t know it was spelled wrong?”

This is an important point. Many proofreaders miss things because they don’t realise they are wrong.

So, it is important that you identify words that catch you out and either list them or learn to spell them correctly, or both!

Techniques to improve your spelling

Here are some tips that will help you keep your spelling up to standard:

  • Keep a small dictionary and use an online one, such as Collins Dictionary or a smartphone app. Refer to it frequently: if in doubt, check.
  • Keep your own “dictionary”, either on your PC or device, or in a notebook, or both. List the words that trip you up, A – Z.
  • Practise your weak spellings. Write them down repeatedly until you know them.
  • Check the spelling in everything you write, including email messages and social media posts. This will develop accuracy and improve your spelling.
  • Use a spell check. Most word-processing software packages have them, but, never rely on them completely. They will pick out obvious errors, but not mistakes like using “toe” instead of “tow”.

Why is punctuation important?

Punctuation marks help to make text clear and easy to read but, above all, they make the meaning absolutely clear. 

Some people find it difficult to punctuate, possibly because they were not taught how to at school. Most UK citizens under 40 don’t know how to use apostrophes! The chances are that their English teachers didn’t know, either.

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