Most common proofreading mistakes

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Are you having a hard time proofreading documents? You give it your best but can’t manage to find most proofreading mistakes?

It’s OKAY!

Proofreading is hard, especially if you’re a beginner trying to take on massive projects just to make a quick buck.

Here’s some data for you to comprehend:

  • Professional proofreaders should catch about 95% of all errors in the first round and by the end of the second round, they should eliminate at least 99.75% of all errors. Source

Getting that level of accuracy is no joke. Even when proofreaders put in a lot of effort to perfect their work, mistakes are bound to happen.

In this article, I’ll be sharing some of the most common proofreading mistakes you’re probably making, along with simple solutions that will help you get better at this skill.

Learning and implementing these solutions will help you avoid costly proofreading errors!

Most Common Proofreading Mistakes

common proofreading mistakes to avoid

Mistake 1: Not Training Your Mind For Proofreading

Raymond and Joey have the same IQ level, but Raymond has spent 11 hours learning to code while Joey has spent 4 hours learning to code.

Who do you think will be better at coding and find more fallacies in the coding scripts?

> Raymond, Of Course!

Not only did he invest more time learning a skill, but his mind was also adjusting to something new – i.e. coding.

One of the most common proofreading mistakes I’ve seen is a lack of practice of the skill. 

Students take up the best proofreading courses out there, go through all the course materials, spend hours revising but still fail to proofread documents well. 

Our mind is not trained to notice tiny details in everything. It looks at the bigger picture but fails to notice the small details wrapped up in the big picture.

A great example is the Invisible Gorilla Video. If you haven’t seen this yet, do check it out. You’ll understand what I am trying to say.

Solution: You need to train your mind to find the gorilla in every document you proofread. Only then will you be able to be a successful proofreader.

Focus on solving quizzes and practice tests. 

Note down your mistakes and try not to repeat them. Practicing is one of the best ways to train your mind to find those minute details to be a better proofreader. 

Try noticing small details in everyday life and be aware of your surroundings. Doing this will help train your mind well.

Mistake 2: Not Completing Incomplete Sentences

I’ve noticed that when I read documents in a hurry, I tend to read a sentence and add words in my mind to complete that sentence. 

Let me give an example:

The actual sentence is like this – Rylan ate an apple from tree but forgot to wash his face after eating the apple. (here ‘the’ is missing before the word ‘tree’).

When I read this at speed, the sentence sounds like – Rylan ate an apple from the tree but forgot to wash his face after eating the apple.

While reading the sentence, I accidentally add the word ‘the’ when in reality, it’s missing. This type of proofreading error is quite common and happens to the best of the proofreaders.

The same problem happens when a word has been repeated when not necessary – Rylan ate an apple from the the tree but forgot to wash his face after eating the apple.

Again, our mind is trained in such a way that we tend to overlook such mistakes.

Solution: The easiest way to tackle this proofreading mistake is by using the in-built Spelling and Grammar Checker. 

In Google Docs, go to Tools – Spelling and Grammar – Spelling and Grammar Check.

You can also use Grammarly to find and rectify such errors. 

Aside from the two software, reading the documents slowly and carefully understanding each line will help you eliminate most of the proofreading mistakes. 

Slow and steady wins the race, so instead of trying to get the work done, do it slowly but do it damn well.

Mistake 3: You Don’t Use Google

Gen Z and Millennials use Google to answer every question that pops into their heads. 

Then why don’t you use Google to clear your proofreading doubts from time to time? There are more than enough free resources for proofreaders on Google. 

Instead of wasting time thinking if you’re right or wrong, use the internet. It will solve 90% of your proofreading questions.

Solution: When in doubt, Google it up and find your answers quickly. If that doesn’t work, message on Facebook Groups, text/call friends with proofreading background, etc.

Mistake 4: Prioritising Speed Over Accuracy

Proofreading is more about accuracy than speed. Nobody wants you to be the fastest proofreader if you make dozens of errors along the way. 

Professional proofreaders offer fast proofreading services because they have been proofreading for a long time now and thus have tons and tons of practice.

Solution: As a beginner proofreader, don’t think about speed! Focus on getting your accuracy rates higher i.e. reducing mistakes. 

Review your work, again and again, to see if you’ve skipped some errors. 9 out of 10 times your job is to focus on getting quality results (by eliminating errors) than getting the job done fast.

You can use Grammarly to help make proofreading easy, but professional proofreaders know using Grammarly is only Step 1.

Mistake 5: Not Understanding Your Target Audience

Not understanding your target audience can be a fatal mistake you’d make as a proofreader. 

Your target audience will dictate what tone you use, spoken style, jargon, quotes, and acronyms used in the document. 

Many proofreaders start editing without knowing how they should approach that written text which often leads to blunders in the final output.

For example – A written article on Cell and Molecular Biology will have a different tone, style, and flow than an article on Business Development and Company Growth Strategies.

If a proofreader considers both articles the same, both clients will not be satisfied with the final output.

Solution: To avoid this proofreading mistake, many proofreaders prefer proofreading in specific niches. 

For example – Jennifer specializes in proofreading for business growth strategies, so she only takes up clients that fit that niche.

If you want to target everyone, be sure to do thorough research on the topic and try understanding how matter is put forward so you can proofread it that way.

How To Spot These Proofreading Mistakes Quickly

The magic trick needed to be an exceptional proofreader is PRACTICE. Practice takes time, effort and patience, and a desire to learn. 

Below are three points that can help you spot common proofreading mistakes at the speed of flash!

Work Without Disturbance

proofreading in silence focus on work

Every successful proofreader knows that if they want to provide quality services, they need to proofread thoroughly and without disturbance of any sort. 

That means no texting friends, watching movies, and playing games. It means you need to sit in silence, away from all distractions, and focus on your written matter.

Re-Read It

No one is perfect! We all learn as we grow and practice the same skill again and again. Just like that, to be superb at proofreading, you need to read it once again. 

Check for spelling mistakes, correct grammatical sentences, punctuation, etc. Ensure the content flow is correct, and there’s no weirdness in the context.

Keep Learning

The last tip would be to keep learning to proofread. 

That means taking up a few courses along the way, watching videos, reading articles on the latest and greatest tips, and time management tips to be an effective proofreader.

Best Courses To Learn Proofreading (2022)

Knowadays (Proofreading Academy)

Knowadays previously known as Proofreading Academy is a CPD certified proofreading course for beginners and intermediate proofreaders. 

Becoming a Proofreader course is known for its detailed syllabus and highly interactive quizzes. 

The course material is uniquely structured which makes it easy for beginners to learn to proofread.

Knowadays also provides guaranteed work with Proofed provided you get 80% or more in their final assessment. 

That means right after completing this course you get access to Proofed’s database of clients that you can work with and make money online.

They have a fixed plan of only $399 which includes all course materials, excellent customer support, and lifetime access to all future updates to the course. 

If you want to learn more about the course, you can read my in-depth review on Knowadays.

Click here to Check Out The Course!

What Next Proofreaders!

Proofreading is not a quick skill to master. That’s why I recommend new proofreaders to take up a course (like Knowadays) and learn everything the course has to offer in detail.

What separates a poor proofreader from a successful one is the ability to provide value to their clients. Learning that skill alone will set your future in the proofreading space.

With enough practice, observation, and tips that I have shared in the article below, being a successful full-time proofreader is possible!

I suggest you read the above article next as I talk about the 13 proofreading tips that can amplify your proofreading skills.

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