Writers on a limited budget can't always afford the services of a professional proofreader, but it is important to get your manuscript as close to error-free as possible so industry decision makers can focus on your content and gain confidence in your abilities as a professional writer.
There are many proofreading tips and tricks out there, but here are three things you should be doing that actually work:
1. Spellcheck: This may seem like a no-brainer, but it is often forgotten. You should run the spellcheck function of whatever program you are using several times during your review process. Many people don’t know that you can often reset the spellcheck function of your software program to recheck the entire document as if it were new (in Microsoft Word, go to File→Options→Proofing→Recheck Document). Very critical: Don’t rush. With spellchecks, you will have to scroll through a lot of flagged non-errors, so it is important to pay close attention to what you’re changing and what you’re skipping.
2. Read sentences out of order (not backward): The biggest problem with reviewing your own work is that your eyes often see what you meant to write, not what actually exists on the page. A good way to pull back that veil is to read your sentences out of order. This will help turn off your mind’s natural train of thought and wake up your eyes. Some people suggest reading sentences backward, but for me, this just slows down the process and confuses the mind unnecessarily.
3. Take breaks in between reviews: Be sure to perform multiple reviews of your manuscript checking for typos and grammar errors only (do two entire read-throughs at a minimum), and remember that taking a break in between each review is a must. The longer the break, the better. Get up from your desk, do something not related to writing or staring at a screen, and come back when your mind is fresh.