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Style Chapter 11: Proofreading
vandanagoyal wrote in visionindia2047
"First draft of everything is shit."
Ernest Hemingway

Famous author Mark Twain says, "..when you think you are reading proof, whereas you are merely reading your own mind; your statement of the thing is full of holes & vacancies but you don't know it, because you are filling them from your mind as you go along. Sometimes--but not often enough--the printer's proof-reader saves you--& offends you--with this cold sign in the margin: (?) & you search the passage & find that the insulter is right--it doesn't say what you thought it did: the gas-fixtures are there, but you didn't light the jets.

Writers are often lazy about the quality of grammar when they publish on web. But it is unacceptable to write something with misspellings and typos. You need to make sure that there are no syntax, spelling or grammar errors in your writing. All weight of your ideas can be lost if there are mistakes in the prose.

It is also important to make sure that the presentation is immaculate. The margins should be right and the formatting done properly.

Proof reading must be done slowly as mind tends to fill the gaps and overlook the errors if it is done in haste. It is good to learn to proof read properly. Leave wide margins on the right hand side when you take a printout for proofreading so you can make clear marks. Here is one guide to proofreading:

You will know that your document is proof read and ready for submission when:

  • the punctuation is correct
  • words are spelled correctly
  • words are used correctly
  • all modifying words refer clearly to the words they intend to modify
  • all verb forms are correct and consistent
  • all verbs agree with the subject
  • there are no inconsistencies in dates, names, times and numbers
  • margins, headers/footers, spacing, indentations in the document are done properly
Proofreading is as hard and time consuming as the initial manuscript and hence demands the same effort and attention. Tools like Spell check do make the job easier but they are not enough.  Spell check can choose a word but it cannot choose the right word.You need to check for correct uses of homonyms like sea/see, to/too/two as it cannot identify suitable ones.You also need to solve eternal riddles like whether  'who' or ' whom' will make the sentence correct.

There are some handy tips, though, to make proofreading easier and more thorough:

  • Read the document with one objective at a time. It is better to read once for content issues, a second time for grammar problems, a third time for formatting and so on.
  • Reading the document in reverse helps. Typographical errors and duplicated words are particularly easy to catch as there is no logic or sense in what you are reading. For detecting other errors of content, punctuation,grammar and syntax read the final sentence first and work your way towards the beginning.
  • Re read the text after correcting the errors.
  • Make smaller blocks of text from a large one so you can concentrate better.
  • Make the font size bigger so that it is easier to mark.
©2008 VisionIndia2047


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