Killer Proofreading Skills Put That Final Draft To BedKiller Proofreading Skills Put That Final Draft To Bed

It's FINALLY here... your final, final draft of that project you've been slaving over for months. Just a quick proof is all it takes. You breeze through, make a few corrections, and pass it off to your trusty assistant for the quadruple-check final once-over. But horror of horrors, when she hands back your work, it's rife with red pen marks! How did you miss all those little picky things, and how can you prevent this from happening again in the future?

The solution: next time, proofread categorically.

What do I mean by this?

Each part of the document you've created contains several elements. These might include but are not limited to:

- Headlines
- Subheads
- Paragraph copy
- Bulleted lists
- Numbered lists
- Tables
- Sidebars
- Photo captions

It goes without saying that you should fine-tooth-comb your copy draft from start to finish. But in addition to this, you must view your document in pieces and compare the parts that match. Break up your Final Proofreading Session into rounds.

Round One: Only look at headlines.

Do all the fonts match in your headlines? What about point size? Did you use initial caps in one headline but all-caps elsewhere? Did you repeat words?

Round Two: Only look at subheadlines.

Did you start off with italics but then switch to bold halfway down the page? Does your fourth subheadline sound awfully similar to your second and sixth subheadline?

Round Three: Scan through all your numbered lists.

Is the indentation in alignment? Did you bold the numbers in the first section and forget to bold them in the last? What about periods at the end of your bullets; is your punctuation consistent?

Continue "making your rounds" in this same manner, covering every aspect of the document you're proofing. Compare date formats, price points, and any other "stylistic" element of your finished product.

Okay! You reached Round Six and thank heaven you're finished reviewing. How many red pen marks do you see... quite a few? If so, that's perfectly okay. The more red pen marks you make in this draft correction, the less you'll have to make in the "final final final" draft!

And that's my final thought.

Copyright 2005 Dina Giolitto. All rights reserved.

by Dina Giolitto
References and Bibliography

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