Tried & true proofreading tips – from a 3-decade professional writer

Posted by Patrice Rhoades-Baum 2 Comments


Proofreading can be trickier than you think – and more important than you realize.

Here are my favorite, real-world proofreading tips:
8 proven ways to proof your writing – and polish your content.


Using my smartphone, I typed a friend’s name in a Facebook post. AutoCorrect changed her last name – Rappisi – to Rapist. OMG!

Thankfully, I caught and corrected this before posting the message. But it’s an ongoing battle.

Twilight at the Butte--Painting by Michael Baum

“Twilight at the Butte,” Painting by Michael Baum

In a text message to a potential art buyer, AutoCorrect changed the title of my husband’s painting from “Twilight at the Butte” to “Twilight at the Butt.” Yikes!

Thanks to AutoCorrect, more typos than ever slip by. And that’s not ok.

As business owners, we want clients and colleagues to view us as professionals and experts. And rightly so – we’ve earned our stripes.

But typo-filled texts, emails, and marketing tools tarnish that image.

That’s why it’s vital to proofread ALL your correspondence: every text message, email, and Facebook post.

Also, as a 3-decade copywriter and marketing professional, you can guess that I strongly encourage solopreneurs to carefully proof their marketing tools: website, speaker one-sheet, social media profiles, articles, blog posts, email newsletters, and so forth.

Here are my favorite proofreading tips – tried and true:

  1. Take time to proof & make it a habit – Always re-read what you’ve written before you hit “post” or “send.” Just a few seconds can save you from embarrassing miscommunication.
  2. Change the type style – This is a simple trick that really works! If you’re drafting content using Calibri or Arial, change the font to Times New Roman. By switching to a type style that is quite different (sans-serif versus serif), you can proofread with a fresh eye.
  3. Print it out – After you’ve drafted your article, blog post or email newsletter, print it and read the paper copy. You’ll be surprised how much difference this makes! Somehow this offers a level of objectivity you simply can’t get when viewing the monitor.
    (While proofing this page, I noticed my habit of using my index finger as a pointer, focusing my eye on one word at a time. Sometimes I overlay a blank sheet of paper to focus attention on one line of text at a time.)
  4. Read it aloud – Read your writing out loud, slowly and carefully (either on paper or on the screen). Minimize distractions and stay focused. This proofreading tip seems to force your brain to slow down and really look at every word.
  5. Walk away for a day – Write your content, then leave it for a day or two. When you come back, you’ll read your copy with a fresh eye. Use this proofreading tip to ensure your proposals and contracts are 100% accurate.
  6. Take full advantage of spellcheck – Turn on spell checkers and grammar checkers in your email program, Microsoft Word, your blogging program, and other writing programs you use. You can specify options! I recently adjusted advanced AutoCorrect and spellcheck options in Outlook. (In my version of Outlook, this is under File/Options/Mail/Editor Options.)
  7. Read 3 times, wearing 3 different “hats” – To ensure your writing delivers an on-target message that hits the mark, first read the copy as if you’re a prospect or client. The next hat you wear is proofreader: Read to check spelling, punctuation, and grammar. Finally, you’re the editor: Red pen in hand, seek ways to clarify the message and reduce word count.
  8. Pair up – Every so often, my husband Mike and I will pair up to proofread something that absolutely must be accurate (e.g., a list of passwords). One person reads the on-screen content out loud, while the other person proofs the printed page.
  9. BONUS: You won’t believe this proofreading tip! – Read your content backward, word for word. I’ve met writers who use this tactic. While I’ve never done this, I can see how you would catch typos (although you could miss homophones such as their/there and it’s/its).
  10. FINAL THOUGHTS, BASED ON 3 DECADES AS A PROFESSIONAL WRITER – It’s a fact of life: typos will slip in. Do your best to avoid them. When you spy a typo, fix it and move on. Don’t beat yourself up. Just remind yourself to take time to proof your content and make it a habit.

Try my proofreading tips – they work! Take it from a professional copywriter who has earned her stripes. (Ask me about “a pole was taken.”)   :>


2 Responses

  1. Patrice Rhoades-Baum says:

    Thanks Pat!
    On the surface, it seems like proofing our content should be simple and straightforward. But typos are slippery little devils and can slip by. 🙂

  2. PAT ROWLAND says:

    Great tips. Thanks!