How to Proofread a Document: 7 Simple Techniques

May 8, 2018
  • Tetiana Vasylenko
  • by Tetiana Vasylenko
May 8, 2018 Tetiana Vasylenko

How to Proofread: 7 Useful Tips

Proofreading is a cardinal part of translation. The job of a proofreader is to find and correct common grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors. This process ensures that the reader gets the best possible rendition of the translated text. Even if the original text is grammatically correct, a proofreader may still be able to make adjustments to improve the flow of the text and hence the quality of the document.

To ensure effective output, professional translation work requires the use of specific tactics. Let’s go through a list of some simple tips on how to proofread a text, with the hope that this advice can help you do a stellar job of proofreading translated and written scripts.

7 Useful Proofreading Tips

1. Always ensure that your revisions also take into account the broader aspects of the text. Do not be too hasty to make corrections at the sentence and word level if you still need to work on the overall focus, organization, and development of whole paragraphs or sections of the texts. As you pore through sentences, do not forget that there is an encompassing theme that binds the writing together.

2. Do not correct just for the sake of it. If you are working on a translated text, sometimes you may not find many errors, but do not let this upset your finely honed editorial sensibilities. So even though you might feel driven by some inner moral compass to justify your pay, which could result in a wild spree of circling, underlining, and ‘crossing out’ non-existent grammatical mistakes, calm down and pass over anything that does not need to be improved.

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3. As your work progresses, remember to take regular breaks. Make time to set your text aside for a while, maybe 2 hours every day. Anyone who knows how to proofread a document knows just how stressful it can be to sit at the job for extended periods. Taking regular breaks gives you some distance from the text; this will help you catch mistakes more easily. You can even leave it overnight if you wish. This can help you feel rejuvenated in the morning, and then you can resume your task of professional proofreading with a fresh pair of eyes.

4. In translation, there is hardly ever a single “right answer.” Often, certain phrases can be translated in several ways, all of which might be valid. Always check facts; make sure your intended corrections are accurate. If you are unsure, you could write a brief comment near problem sentences. Do not change them unless you have researched them and found that the particular translation is problematic and does not fit the context.

5. Make it a practice to read out loud. This will help you catch phrasal mishaps that might go unnoticed if read silently.

Work from a printout

6. Try to work from a printout rather than a computer screen. This will enable you to implement the “blank paper technique.” This technique keeps you from skipping ahead of possible mistakes. It’s a simple technique, whereby you use a blank sheet of paper to cover up the lines below the one you’re reading.

7. Use software to polish text and get rid of all the minor errors that a person might miss. You can find free online proofreading tools that search for punctuation or spelling mistakes or more sophisticated translation quality assurance software that has been specially developed for translators.

Applying the tactics above should help ensure that you can accurately proofread translated texts. Rely on your professionalism and appropriate software whenever possible to arrive at an ideal text. And never miss a chance to learn and apply new or popular techniques to make your editing even better.

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