Tip #1 — Proofread your articles before they get on the page
Nothing slows down the production process like having to proofread copy in a publication after it has been laid out on the page. Finding mistakes on the page, and the subsequent correction of these errors, is a tedious and time-wasting task. The best advice I can give to editors and writers is: do your proofing before stories go to layout.
Everyone has a favorite way to proofread. If you do a web search, you will find many articles on proofreading, such as this one from factoidz.com. I’ve summarized a variety of proofing methods below:
1. Use your spell checker. This should be your first line of defense, but not your last. Remember that spell checkers do not catch everything — especially if a word is spelled correctly, but is used incorrectly in a sentence.
2. Read your text backwards. This is a tried and true method, and it works. Start at the bottom of the page and read right to left, bottom to top.
3. Print your article out on paper. It’s much easier to proofread hard copy than it is to proofread on a computer screen.
4. Get another person to proofread the story. This is especially true if it is something you’ve personally written.
5. Read the text out loud. Read as though you were having a conversation with someone — even better, actually read it to someone. Listening to the text will help you catch errors that you might otherwise miss.
6. Put the copy aside for a while, then go back and proofread it again. (Granted, this method is tough when you’re working under a short deadline. But if you have the chance, it will pay off.)
Yes, you should still read the publication in PDF format before it goes to print, but nothing compares to having most of the errors worked out while the copy is still in your word documents.