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Lesson 5 - Proofreading

How to Become a Better Proofreader

Proofreading is an important skill for any qualified transcriber. Although many companies have QA departments, you should never turn in transcripts that are not proofread first. You may not want to read through a document that you just typed up, but this lesson will give help you in making proofreading easy and efficient. First of all, do not be overwhelmed by the amount of text that is in front of you. Always remember that it may be a large, medium or small document, but it can always be broken down into manageable chunks. This is especially true if you follow the 11-line rule for each paragraph. By breaking down your document into smaller paragraphs, not only does it become more readable by your intended audience, it also allows for better proofreading because the topics and subsections are not running into one another.


The second thing to remember is to always look at your document as if you were not the one who typed it. Whenever you are proofing someone else’s document, you assume that nothing is correct and check everything from the header to the page number on the bottom. Do this exact process with your own work as well! One way to help you do this is to read each section aloud. When we proof our own documents, we tend to read in our head and “hear” what we typed originally. This is going to prevent you from finding your mistakes! Since you typed it, you assume, of course, that you were correct in what you originally heard. However, when you read the document aloud, you will be more apt to see missing words, punctuation, spelling errors, etc. because you are vocalizing each part of the document.

Another help during this process is to use a ruler to go line-by-line. This will keep your eyes from bouncing around and focus your attention on the one line in front of you, in order to catch any mistakes.

To get a fresh perspective on what you have typed, it is also better to begin your proofreading from the end of the document. By doing this, you will prevent your brain from automatically going into “story” mode and re-reading what you assume you typed originally.

Autocorrect in Spell Check

Although it may be a given that you would run spell-check on any document, there are a few things you can do to make spell-check even more effective. If there are certain mistakes that you know you always make, you can put this mistake and its correction into the Autocorrect Options. Then, when you are typing and you begin to type “the” as “t-e-h,” the computer will correct it for you and you will have prevented a mistake before it even occurred. You can also do this for certain phrases that may be a common occurrence in the document. If you know that there is a detailed phrase that occurs very often, you can make up whatever combination of letters is easy to remember, and use the same process as you did for the word “the” in the Autocorrect Options.