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Why you need to proofread your writing

Updated on February 22, 2014

It happens all the time, we start reading an article, excited about what it will reveal to us, then we see it, the line-it is very impotent. No, the article is not on impotency, it is on the importance of marketing. Spelling is probably the single most important thing when writing an article. Our audience are forgiving, but they don't want to see errors in your work. Two or three mistakes and the chances are your article will not get read to the end. Spelling mistakes interrupt our flow, in a nut shell they tell me you don't care. If you haven't taken the time to read through your work a few times, just to make sure it is mistake free, why should anyone else bother? It could be the difference between people taking you seriously as a writer and not.

This is not a lecture, this is a preach from the writer's bible. I was looking through some of my own work last week when I realised one piece still had a typo in, so it's not just you, it is me! So here are some tips for spotting those pesky typos. Now obviously you are thinking, but I use Microsoft Word! It's not enough, Word does not pick up squinting modifiers, missing punctuation and commonly misspelled words. In short, Word is to be used as a guideline not as a proof reading tool. If you would like a good electronic proof reading software, then I highly recommend Grammarly, I pay subscription for mine, but it is worth it. It is thorough to the point of annoying, fully explaining why it thinks every other sentence in your work is incorrect. It is not perfect, it does not understand that the way characters in a story speak often differs massively from the written word, therefore you must always use it with discretion. What it does though, is force you the writer to scrutinise almost every sentence in your work, and therefore it is exceptional value for money. It will also offer alternative words for the more commonly used words used in the English language. This will stop your work sounding bland and repetitive. I think I have been using it on and off for about a year now.

Here is the link for Grammarly, and it even comes with a seven day free trial! If you cannot afford Grammarly, there are other options, giving it to a friend is always a good idea. It is likely a friend will pick up on mistakes you will not. So giving it to multiple friends is the best option, and redrafting every time. I recommend this for the majority of people. Especially if, you are writing a story or novel as there are different types of errors. In writing, there are often what’s known in the business as continuity errors, as well as grammatical errors. For example, your character picks up a car from the car park at the hotel, when the car was actually left at a friend's house after a drunken night out; that is a continuity error. This happens because novels take months to write and we can go weeks without adding a word to our book, because of this we forget little details; like the fact the protagonist drove the car into a lake in the previous chapter, so there is no way they can be cruising along the highway in it. No computer will pick up on those; they are usually a lot harder to spot than grammatical errors. Professional editors are usually pretty adept at picking up on continuity errors.

If you have no friends, cannot afford a professional editor and cannot afford Grammarly, there is one last option, which works quite well, I will usually do this before giving my article to a friend to read: slowly read your work out loud to yourself. This is incredibly effective and is a terrific way of picking up on errors you may have missed otherwise. Again it allows you to focus on individual sentences and highlight any missing punctuation. If you do this, I advise writing your work and leaving it for two days, then reading it through again before publishing, unless it is time urgent, the reason for this is you will pick up on mistakes more easily if you have been away from your work because you can read it objectively. Whenever we write something, we invest in it emotionally, in our own heads we believe the work is perfect. Why? Because we wrote it. Time away will help break that link and allow you to view that work objectively. Also, if you don't take a break, you remember what you were trying to say, so you read it like that rather than reading what is actually there.

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    • A K Turner profile image
      Author

      Joseph A K Turner 5 years ago from West Yorkshire

      I read a great article which basically said the very worst person to proof your work is you! I had some as well from my lecturers at uni, I make a load of them, its just as one writer put it, every single spelling mistake destroys your integrity as a writer

    • Mr Archer profile image

      Mr Archer 5 years ago from Missouri

      I work for a school district, and am amazed at the amount of grammatical and spelling errors I've received over the years in emails from teachers! All levels of professionals have issues with these areas. I agree, take the time and put the effort into re-reading it, or having someone go over it for you! Nobody's perfect, but we can minimize our mistakes. Very informative hub.

    • christin53 profile image

      Ann-Christin 5 years ago from UK

      Good advice. I've started reading my work out loud to myself and also coming back to it later before I publish. Occasionally spelling errors do slip through and that is when very nice hubbers have pointed it out to me.

    • A K Turner profile image
      Author

      Joseph A K Turner 5 years ago from West Yorkshire

      so true!

    • laptopfinger profile image

      Christiano Odhiambo 5 years ago from Nairobi

      No, standards slip when you are playing at a game with no barriers to entry.

    • prettynutjob30 profile image

      Mary 5 years ago from From the land of Chocolate Chips,and all other things sweet.

      Great hub I do this all the time I have improved some but for some reason it is so easy to over look mistakes when your writing voted up and useful.

    • A K Turner profile image
      Author

      Joseph A K Turner 5 years ago from West Yorkshire

      yeah to a certain extent, I have found with things like stories it is a lot more important, because you interrupt the flow of the novel. Like I said, I am not perfect I find mistakes in my work as well. Its just if we want to look professional then typos are a no no. I will lay money on it, there are people on hubpages who do none of the above, and you will find they are the same people who have very few followers. I honestly believe that standards have slipped since the introduction of texting, and the internet. I keep finding mistakes on the National Telegraph website!

    • laptopfinger profile image

      Christiano Odhiambo 5 years ago from Nairobi

      This is great advice. I have found out that for blog posts and hubs, some typos don't really hurt. For example, you will still understand when I write tht he came today for the items. Besides, people use the context to understand what they are reading. So few typos can pass. I hope you agree. I have used whitesmoke, a software for checking grammar and its also great.