The parson mug prize draw #6

Travelling is fun but can be exhausting. That‘s why the parson mug decided to spend a few days on the beach. more ...

A year in London. I am not just missing my sock

May I present Parsons Green in London? I think it's a perfect name for a London parson branch. That branch is not planned yet, but a bit of parson is actually in London at the moment. Me. more ...

Recommend+To? A Clear Recommendation

In technical documentation, we avoid recommendations. They rarely help the reader: The producer recommends ultra-light power cells. Why? What happens if I use others? more ...

iiRDS – How a Novice Sees the Information Delivery Standard

Lately, the newly developed tekom standard iiRDS has gained quite some attention. The next exciting step will be the release of version 1.0, which will be released soon. Requesting and delivering intelligent information as a standardized approach between individual enterprises is a pioneering step in the Internet of Things – but let’s rewind a little. more ...

Pets at the office. Part I: Molly

The atmosphere at our office is always good, but when Molly is there, it gets even better. Molly is good for us. more ...

Be nice. Strategies of a proofreader

We create documentation in several steps: We interview the experts, process information, create terminology, write, rewrite, and translate. Before we publish a text, we proofread.

But finding errors or inconsistencies in your own writing is sometimes difficult. Another pair of eyes can help. This is where I come in.

Fotolia 46241978 XS© Anatoly Maslennikov. Fotolia.comI read a document with respect to style, structure, and consistency. I recommend linguistic changes. I correct spelling, grammar, and punctuation.

I find a lot: typos, repetitions, or missing transitions. I find too much detail, too little detail, wrong commas, and fragments. I am merciless. I am strict. I get paid for it. I raise questions and I nag. I sense if the author did not know what exactly is going on in the engine he or she is describing. Occasionally, I play dumb. Who says that the audience knows as much as we do?

There are many strategies and recommendations for proofreading. Not all of them may suit you. Most of them work for me. I hope that you find them useful:

  1. Focus and avoid distractions. Proofreading is a demanding task and needs your full attention. Focus on one sentence at the time. If you try to take in too much information at once, you might miss inconsistencies or other errors.
  2. Be suspicious. Don’t trust a word you are reading. Also do not make assumptions. If you are not sure whether the information you are reading is correct, do some research or ask an expert.
  3. Reread. Read everything at least twice. I am always surprised how many errors I find in the second or even third round.
  4. Create a routine. I like to read the text first with respect to content, style, language, structure, and consistency. Second, I check spelling, grammar, and commas.
  5. Read aloud. I can better examine a complex paragraph when I read it aloud.
  6. Create variety. Proofreading can be hard, tedious, and frustrating at times. Interrupt your work when you feel that you cannot focus anymore or when you lose interest. Try to work on something else. Or go for a run. That helps me.
  7. Be nice and show respect. Sometimes, we tend to be overcritical or point a finger. Even if you are frustrated, make sure that your criticism helps the author. Respect the author’s work and intentions.
  8. Be passionate. Become a grammar nerd. Keep up-to-date on the subject. Read blogs and books about language, grammar, and style.

I am sure there plenty of other strategies. We would like to hear from you. What works best for you?

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