When you work in a career surrounded by paperwork, proofreading is vital--especially if said paperwork involves important legal documents and communications with valued clients. Proofreading is the final step in the editing process; it's the act of refining the quality and readability of your final draft. Technology has our backs with its capabilities to catch stray typos and grammatical errors. However, it can't catch every mistake and should not be relied upon.
Check out some of these effective proofreading techniques to ensure your writing is foolproof and free from errors.
Read it out loud. Start by reading your paper or email out loud. It might sound different than it did in your head. This will help with ensuring that everything makes sense and flows together. Read slowly and carefully while exercising your attention to detail. Be sure there's no competing noise or other distractions around while you read.
Having an awareness of common writing mistakes (especially your own) can go a long way. Check out these 9 common proofreading errors on GoTranscript.
Read it backwards. Another effective option for catching spelling mistakes is to work through the document backwards. This way you will solely focus on spelling rather than getting caught up in the flow of the sentence. It forces you to slow down. This method can be a bit time-consuming, but it's well worth doing if you're worried about spelling errors.
Print a hard copy. No matter how many times you proofread that same PDF, errors could still escape you. Some words might only appear in your peripheral vision as you skim through sentences. Your brain will often subconsciously correct errors in your mind, causing you to bypass them completely. Looking at a hard copy is like hitting the reset button because it's something new. It won't tire your eyes out like a screen. You can even take it to a second location, perhaps your favorite armchair or a comfy spot on the couch, for a completely new angle.
Use the hard copy to make handwritten corrections, preferably in red ink that will stand out! Mark it up to your heart's content.
Sleep on it. Breaking a large workload up into manageable pieces has multiple benefits. Not only will you feel less overwhelmed, but your quality of work will not suffer at the hands of fatigue. Don't ever be afraid to sleep on things. Returning with a fresh perspective can boost your proofreading prowess.
Double and triple check! Formatting, spelling, and grammar are incredibly important, but so are the facts. Pay extra attention to important information such as the case number, names, dates, and numerical figures. Fact check anything else that needs it. Getting the most vital information wrong could reflect badly on you. Triple check that you've got it right!
Don't forget your signature!
Seek a second set of eyes. If you don't have time to proofread or want to be absolutely sure your documents are good to go, you can always rely on others. A second pair of eyes doubles your chances of catching overlooked errors. Find someone within your firm who is willing to back you up and be willing to return the favor to them as well.
Utilize Tools. You shouldn't depend solely on technology to proofread for you since it has its own flaws, but it's all right to lean on it for extra help. Wondershare PDFelement uses artificial intelligence to analyze and proofread documents. Grammarly is another AI-powered tool that offers suggestions and will even pay attention to the style and tone of your writing.
Never underestimate the power of proofreading! If you take pride in your professionalism and credibility, it's essential--especially when you're working in the legal world. Be sure to carve out time to proofread all of your legal documents so that they're foolproof!