Proofreading Tips for Technical Writers
Who is the proofreader?
The proofreader combs through the work looking for any inappropriateness. These include punctuation, spelling, spaces, alignment, type font and style, and other minutiae. This can involve comparing the final copy with the final trail print.
Technical writers and Self-proofreading
Proofreading is one of the important skill technical writers must possess to excel in their profession. A good writer with self-proofreading ability are able to churn out accurate, clear, concise, flawless and logically structured document, it’s imperative that you review each word to check for typos, mistakes, context, and tone. Those little details really do matter!
I asked my friends on LinkedIn Information Developers group and I got some great tips thanks to Altaf Ahmed, San Xu, Carlos and Kranthi Kumar Kandagatla for their insight.
To find out errors, you must know the type of errors that you do commonly. In this post, my main focus is on some common mistakes and methods to reduce them by self-proofing.
Please also keep in the mind there is a difference between editing and proofreading. It is said that we should not do together, but I believe if you have the ability to do it together please go ahead.
- Spelling mistakes
- Incorrect data
- Incorrect or inconsistent capitalization
- Incorrect Numbering and Heading
- Incorrectly spelled names
- Non-agreement of subject and verb
- Use of passive voice
- Incorrect punctuation
- Incorrect Referencing of illustrations
- Incorrect header and footer
- Reversed numbers like 459 to 495
- Sound similar but have different meanings for words (e.g., except/accept, palette/palate, intense/intensive).
- Wrong use of apostrophes
- Check Cross-references
- Style Guide compliance mistakes. (Mistakes in Fonts, Images, Tables etc)
- Incorrect Index
Now you have a checklist available, but how to find your own writing errors which often occurs just when stress levels are highest and time shortest, writers minds resist identifying them as errors. Under these conditions, you will see only what they want to see because we are often blind to our own mistakes?
Few popular and easy steps which work wonder to many will surely work for you as well.
(horrible instead of honorable, be long instead of belong )
(their instead of they're, its instead of it's )
We can do a complete scan of the document for only spell checking, and then repeat the quick scan each time for checking graphics, links, grammar check etc. Though this looks to be a tedious and time-consuming process, however, can provide thorough results with correction of even minute undetected errors.
Kranthi Kumar Kandagatla • I agree to San. A fresh mind works efficiently for proofreading. I always take a day off after I complete a project. Come next day for proofreading. I prefer soft copy.
Carlos Mills, • I also keep a list of commonly misspelt words to run a quick search/replace to save editing time. As we all agree, the writer should take some time off from the document first pass to avoid blind words or to avoid seeing what they are thinking and not what was written.
Do you have some more tips to share? Kindly leave a comment.To know the difference between editing and proofreading.