How to proofread your own work

Proofreading your own work before it gets to a sub-editor really saves a lot of time for everyone. It also means your work doesn't get rejected so you get paid more quickly.

Not only does it keep the whole content creation and publishing process in the team flowing smoothly, but the habit of proofreading your own work helps you become a better writer over time. That's why you should learn how to proofread your work effectively and professionally.

Proofreading seems like a pretty easy task. After all, you’re just giving your writing one more look-over, right?

Well, not quite. To be done well, proofreading takes a little more time and effort than a quick last read-through.

In fact, basic spelling and grammar is only the start. 

Proofreading is about more than just finding errors; it’s about making sure all of your ducks are in a row and that the tiny things match up.

Editing and proofreading are vital for producing great writing. But where should you look? What should you change? 

Are there spelling errors in your work? Did you capitalise proper nouns? Did you write the client’s name correctly? Did you write the product name correctly?

Read your own writing ALOUD.

Yes, really!

Read it out aloud and you will find awkward phrases which can be restructured.

Ensure that the sentence structure flows.

Use to check that you are writing succinctly, as well.

Check for spelling issues. You will find that “they’re” and “their” are correct spellings but not contextually correct. The automated dictionary will not find these homonym issues or any other similar tricky errors.

Even with all the knowledge, tools and helpful tips, it's quite difficult to proofread your own work and organise your proofreading process. Here's why.

You think you are reading proof, whereas you are merely reading your own mind. Your statement of the thing is full of holes and vacancies but you don't know it, because you are filling them from your mind as you go along. Sometimes, no matter how carefully we examine a text, it seems there's always one more little blunder waiting to be discovered.

Go through the following resources to learn what it takes to proofread your own work professionally and become a master of details.

Learning Resources

Here are some resources to help you find your way around:

  • Read this short guide to find out what to do before and when you proofread so that you minimise the chances that any of your errors slip through the cracks.

  • With 100 proofreading and editing tips for writers, this seems to be the most comprehensive article. You may start with it and use it later when revising.

  • Every writer should be familiar with these proofreading tips and tricks.

  • This in-depth article offers 20 tips to help you learn to proofread like a professional.

  • This quick-read provides 10 tips for proofreading effectively. You're probably familiar with most of them, but we'd like to highlight tips 2 and 3.

  • This piece is not aimed for writers but job seekers and these proofreading tips are similar to many others but the content is still well worth your attention, especially tips 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 10.

  • This expert 6-minute read outlines 10 essential components writers mustn't neglect when proofreading their work. Consider including them in your personal proofreading checklist.

  • In this article, you'll find eight things to check when proofreading anything. Although it seems to be more general, it provides some useful information for you.

  • Here you'll find eight proofreading tips and techniques applicable to any kind of writing. Some of them are better than the others. Read about them and decide what works for you.

  • This is a super quick-read which summarises the most general proofreading tips you've previously learnt about.

  • Although it's not exhaustive and some point are not applicable to your work, you can still use this proofreading checklist so that you always remember what you need to check while proofreading your own work and before submitting your writing for approval and payment.

  • This is another concise and neat proofreading checklist you could rely on, which also provides brief advice on the order of your proofreading work.

  • Content writers could benefit from this proofreading course, so you may consider taking it if you like it.

  • This short video summarises the main points of proofreading work and techniques you should bear in mind.

  • This 2-minute video shows some techniques for proofreading academic work, but you can also apply them to blog or other content.

  • This video will teach you how to trim needless words from your writing and why it's so critical.

  • In this video you'll find out why proofreading is so important and see 10 techniques and tools that can help you proofread your writing better.

  • Here, you'll find eight proofreading tutorials. You can watch them all or choose what suits you best.

  • This webinar reveals some more or less familiar proofreading strategies for fine-tuning your writing, so it's good to know them. You can watch this video last to revise or even learn some new hacks.