10 Top Tips for Proofreading Large Documents


What's your best tip for proofreading large documents?

To help you proofread large documents more efficiently, we asked experienced proofreaders and copyeditors this question for their best tips. From creating and following a checklist to doing a complete final edit in one sitting, there are several tips that may help you proofread large documents thoroughly for a perfect final copy.

Here are 10 top tips for proofreading large documents:

  • Create and Follow a Checklist

  • Use Find and Replace To Correct Repeated Words

  • Get More Than One Proofreaders

  • Allow Yourself Short Breaks In Between Short Edits

  • Proofread The Document Printed on Paper

  • Read The Document Backwards Sentence by Sentence

  • Read Each Word Out Loud Slowly

  • Skim Through The Document First

  • Take Note of The Key Information in The Document

  • Do a Complete Final Edit in One Sitting


Create and Follow a Checklist

The best tip for proofreading large documents or any piece of writing is to follow a checklist. Create a checklist of what the final document should look like, and ensure you are ticking off that checklist while you proofread your document. This ensures that nothing is left behind and maintains standardization for proofreading all other documents. This checklist can also be adapted to your needs and easily followed by anyone, making proofreading easy for everyone in a team. For example, your checklist can include; Checking for spelling errors, Verifying data, Ensuring quality, and so on.

Madhurima Halder, Recruit CRM


Use Find and Replace To Correct Repeated Words

If you notice you have corrected a certain word more than once, do a quick find and replace to correct it throughout the rest of the document. When you're proofreading a large document and a particular error crops up repeatedly, it's much more efficient to rely on this technique rather than manually edit it every time it occurs.

Amanda Napitu, Improving Your English


Get More Than One Proofreaders

Have more than one set of eyes proofreading any important document. Every brain reads differently and is going to catch different errors in spelling, punctuation and grammar. By having at least two sets of eyes on any document, you'll increase your chances of having effectively proofread said document to perfection. You're bound to miss something on your own or with only one single proofreader in tow, and sometimes it takes only one extra effort to get the task done right.

Trey Ferro, Spot Pet Insurance


Allow Yourself Short Breaks In Between Short Edits

Maintaining a steady focus is the key to catching every error in a large proofread, but it’s often easier said than done. Cut your document into sections beforehand so you have clear breaks you can use to hop out to use the bathroom and hop back into the content without losing your place. Reduce your risk of distractions during the edit by grabbing a cup of your favorite tea or coffee and performing some basic stretches to prepare yourself for a long sitting session.

Ruben Gamez, SignWell


Proofread The Document Printed on Paper

When proofreading big documents, the number one tip I find most effective is to go back to basics. Print a hard copy of your document and use your fingers to focus your sight on which words or parts you're reading. This way, you get to maximize the sensory input given off by the paper. This practice activates more areas of the brain than typing on a keyboard -- it triggers memory and helps you focus better so you can catch more errors than you would if you do it manually using a digital device.

In fact, reading sentence after sentence off of screens causes digital fatigue as the backlighting and low resolution are proven to mess up our perceptions after extended periods of exposure. Not to mention, since digital screens are meant to keep users stimulated, you'll most likely be overwhelmed and practice inadequate proofreading as you'll have a shorter attention span.

Collen Clark, Schmidt & Clark, LLP


Read The Document Backwards Sentence by Sentence

Read it backwards, sentence by sentence. When you need to proofread a large document, the best tip to make sure you catch everything is to read it backwards, sentence by sentence. By starting from the end and reading each sentence, you’re making sure you don’t get distracted by the content while also giving your eyes a manageable chunk of text to focus on. When you deconstruct a large document into stand-alone one-sentence portions, you proofread quickly and efficiently.

Staci Brinkman, Sips by


Read Each Word Out Loud Slowly

Read each word out loud. The best and most effective tip for proofreading large documents is to read each word out loud slowly. When you slowly voice every word, you engage your auditory senses and this helps you catch not just grammar and spelling but also clarity issues. Reading slowly out loud is a great tip for proofreading large documents and though it takes time, it’s well worth it.

Tony Staehelin, Benable


Skim Through The Document First

Start by skimming. Before focusing on grammatical errors and syntax, you want to ensure the entire argument is valid and flows. A document with all the commas in the right places will not be persuasive if it lacks sufficient evidence or doesn’t follow a logical format. You’ll save time and improve the text by catching the primary flaws first. If you feel stuck, try reverse outlining the author’s points to see if you can create a better structure.

Alexandra Fennell, Attn: Grace


Take Note of The Key Information in The Document

When you're proofreading a large document, it's easy to get distracted and lose track of what you're supposed to be looking for. Moreover, proofreaders are often under pressure due to extended periods of concentration and tight deadlines. Organizing documents with high word counts is crucial when proofreading them. The key to delivering quality work is to plan ahead. The following tip should be followed when proofreading large documents:

Before proofreading any document, be sure to know: The deadline by which the document must be returned to the client; the document's word count; the use of English dialects or style sheets by your client; editing level (e.g., proofreading or copy editing). It should be indicated which referencing style was used (if applicable).

So, instead of jumping around from section to section or paragraph to paragraph, organize your document by topic or section and then work your way through each topic or section one at a time.

Sandeep Kashyap, ProofHub


Do a Complete Final Edit in One Sitting

While it may be helpful to break larger projects up into smaller tasks, proofreading large documents requires an uninterrupted final edit. When editing in multiple sittings, it can be difficult to maintain the congruency of the document. However, if even the first paragraph is still fresh in your mind, then you can be sure that all of your editing check marks are consistently applied.

Mark Sider, Greater Than


 

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