Here are some tips to help you proofread effectively and thoroughly.

  • Use your computer spell-check and grammar-check features, but remember they are no substitute for your careful reading.

  • Proofread hard copies of what you’ve written. Errors are less obvious when you’re viewing them on a computer screen.

  • Put the document aside and review it the next day. What sounded great at 2 a.m. may not sound so wonderful at 2 p.m.

  • Read your message right-to-left or bottom-to-top. Your overly helpful brain wants to make sense of the writing and sometimes will read things that aren’t there. This strategy short-circuits the process and forces you to slow down to examine each word individually.

  • Ask a knowledgeable colleague to review what you’ve written. An objective reader often finds errors that escape the writer.

  • Consult a style manual (such as The Chicago Manual of Style) and a dictionary for proper writing style, word usage, and spelling.

  • Try temporarily changing the document to a different font. Errors sometimes jump out at you when the font is not what you usually use.

  • Concentrate on proofreading. It can be tedious work, so keeping distractions at bay is critical.

  • Read the document aloud. Your ear can catch things your eye may have missed. And you can evaluate the tone of the message as well as its content.

  • Go through the document several times. With each pass, focus on something different (spacing and white space; spelling; overall flow; consistency in styles for headings, fonts, underlining; sentence structure; punctuation; word choice).