Both emerging writers and seasoned ones alike may commit proofreading errors in one way or another. Even in the best among writers, mistakes can be unavoidable. Not to mention that proofreading and editing in a writing task can be difficult.
So, what are the top proofreading errors? We’ll take a look at it in the following article. Be sure to read until the end to find out the most common mistakes to look for.
Common Proofreading Errors
We tend to miss the little stuff, so proofreading errors can occur in our writing tasks. Our brain is wired to notice the big details, being adept at detecting what our eyes need to see, such as food and danger. The following are common proofreading errors that you might not see in your work. Take a look at them.
It is not surprising that we often miss inconsistencies in our work, and at times, we cannot really spot them because they don’t look wrong at all.
4 June 2020, June 4, 2020, 4th June 2020, July 4th 2020 (dates)
Headings – uppercase, sentence case, title case
British and American English – colour and color; savour and savor; licence and license
·Compound words – proofreading, proof-reading, proof reading
Apart from these, other proofreading errors that we might not notice also include double and single quote marks, layout, times, numbers, symbols, and so on.
For clear and effective writing, be consistent throughout the piece. Check that you’re focusing on each element’s consistency.
For example, dates and numbers should be written in a consistent format across the entire content. It is the same for layout and other formats.
A spell checker might not spot all spelling errors, so you’re on your own to check. When proofreading your work, be sure to go over the spelling of the words and check if you didn’t interchange certain letters. You must also understand what homonyms and their differences are to avoid confusion. Examples include –
· Their, they’re, and there
· Two, to, and too
It should be showing possession or something that belongs to something, and then there is contraction wherein there are missing letters (don’t, can’t). Here are some examples
· Its already five o’clock.
· Its my favorite food.
· I’m selling my PC’s.
It refers to the arrangement of phrases and words to form good sentences. A poor syntax is one of the proofreading errors that you might not notice when proofreading your work.
It happens due to the wrong order of words or missing a keyword in your sentence. It can be hard to spot a syntax error because a badly constructed sentence can still form a complete thought.
Poor syntax can make your writing unclear, so be sure to focus on removing such proofreading errors when checking your piece. For example, it might help to say – used dresses for sale than dresses for sale used.
5.Following everything that the spellcheckers recommend
While using a spelling checker is valuable in writing, you should not rely on it totally when proofreading your work. It can spot spelling mistakes; however, it cannot spot incorrect word usage.
For example, the word may be spelled correctly, but it is not used properly in the sentence. The lesson here is – you should use a spellchecker, but you must do the manual checking for spelling mistakes after.
6.Doubled or missing words
When reading your work, check if you didn’t miss important words and you didn’t duplicate certain words.
These words have the same sound but they don’t have the same meaning. Sometimes when we type, we tend to miss this detail, especially if you’re a fast typist. They don’t look wrong, anyway. And grammar and spelling checkers might not also be able to spot these.
A few commonly mistaken homophones include –
· Break and brake
· Complement and compliment
· Anti and ante
· Whole and hole
· Fare and fair
· Buy and by
· Bare and bear
· Here and hear
· New and knew
· Write and right
· Won and one
· Piece and peace
· Site and sight
· Principle and principal
· Steal and steel
· Your and you’re
· Stationary and stationery
8.Comma splices, run-on sentences, and fragments
During the writing process, we can easily commit such proofreading errors if we’re not careful enough.
So, when editing and proofreading your work, check and read your sentences – and see if they have subject and verbs.
Also, check if they contain a complete thought, and make sure that they’re correctly punctuated. You must also spot for a comma splice or a run-on sentence.
When it comes to formatting, you should check that your paper follows the formatting guidelines as instructed by your professor or someone who has assigned the task to you. Check for the right font type and size, and margins, for instance.
9.Not modifying the repetitions in the paragraph or sentence
If you’re a writer, you might commit one of the most common proofreading errors, which is not making changes or removing repetitive words or phrases even if you already spotted them. When not given attention, this error can make your content read robotic.
This happens when you use certain words that you use more often than other words. To avoid it, try to think of words with the same meaning or synonyms, and use them provided they fit the context of your sentence.
Tips to avoid proofreading errors
The following are some of the most effective tips to avoid proofreading mistakes in your writing.
1.Do not misuse punctuation
Misusing punctuation is one of the most common proofreading errors that many writers commit. To avoid this, remember that it is not only the overall look of the article that matters but also the correct use of different writing elements, such as punctuation.
Otherwise, incorrect punctuations can lead to the confusion of your readers because they cause unnecessary shifts in the tone and meaning of your sentences.
You must be able to spot the mistakes that you commonly commit when it comes to punctuation, know the punctuation rules, and practice.
2.Take a break after writing
One of the most common reasons for committing proofreading mistakes is this – we’re letting our work consume us. So, the writing process is done, and as we’re too invested in our work, we tend not to distance ourselves from our writing before proofreading and editing it.
After writing, it is better to take a break. Stand up and stay away from your laptop. You should get some rest before editing and proofreading your work.
With fresh eyes, you can go back to your work later. This is the more effective approach other than trying to finish everything in one sitting.
Give your work some time before proofreading it. Doing this will also give your brain its needed rest. How much time is enough to rest before editing? It depends on the length of your content. You might have to take a longer break if it’s a longer document, too.
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3.Make editing a part of the plan
Some writers just proofread but not edit their work. However, editing must be a part of the plan to ensure that your work is not only with flawless spelling and grammar but also an excellent flow and organization. Do not skip the editing phase, or you will not be able to improve what you have covered and arrange it logically.
4.Check for repetition errors
Writing for a living and on the same topics may affect the quality of your work.
Sometimes, you might not notice but you’re making a lot of repetitions in your piece. The chance of committing repetitions tends to go up as you become more familiar with the common sentence constructions you’re using and the words you tend to use a lot of times.
Edit your piece when you’re well-rested to avoid repetition mistakes in your content. You must be able to spot repetition on phrases and words. Replace those commonly used words with their synonyms.
5.Do not rely on spelling and grammar checkers alone
Even the most powerful spelling and grammar checkers online cannot spot all the mistakes in your piece. They might not be able to cover all phrases and variants that we use in writing. Remember that these tools also have their limitations. Double check your work after checking with a spellchecker.
6.Read out loud
When we read out loud, we can look at the words and not skip them. To make it more effective, try fixing your eyes on almost every word. For longer words, you should look at them twice.
7.Spend enough time to proofread and edit your work
Both proofreading and editing are challenging phases in writing; however, they are equally important as great content that contains outstanding information.
Take time to read, proofread, and edit your content and avoid rushing through. You must be able to invest concentration, patience, and time to ensure that you’ll get impressive results.
Set a schedule to edit and proofread your content. If you cannot do it yourself, there are also service providers that can help.
· Go slowly when proofreading
· Take breaks
· Spend enough time to edit and proofread
· Get expert help when necessary
Proofreading errors can be spotted if you spend enough time and effort to polish your work. And also, know that these mistakes can help us learn and improve in our craft.
With enough practice and patience, we can become masters of grammar and spelling rules, and we can apply them in our writing. We just need to practice, focus, and be dedicated to what we’re doing, and soon enough, we’ll be able to master language writing, editing, and proofreading rules.