I recently finished an essay for a big project. Several times during the months I worked on the essay, I printed it and carefully proof read. I know I find more errors in print than on a computer screen. At the end, I let the essay sit for a week then proof read it again. As expected, I found more errors and corrected them. I read the narrative out loud and corrected more errors.
I submitted the essay thinking I had done due diligence on proof reading. Of course, days after submission I found more errors in the essay. Not just typos, but I left the name of the state off of a census citation. One citation used the name of the city where a person lived at the time of death instead of the name of the state capitol where the death record is archived. There were other errors I don't want to admit to in public.
I need more proof reading tricks. Letting someone else read an essay is a great way to find typos and sentences that need to be reworded. Because my essay was essentially a test, I could not ask one of my friends to proof read it for me. I learned one week is not enough cooling-off time for a project I have been working on intensely for months and years. I need to let the essay sit longer before the final reading. Next time I will read the citations out loud as well as the narrative. Another proof reading tip is to read your essay backwards. My mind balks at reading backwards. I think I am going to have to practice this.
If you need a demonstration of how your mind "fills in" what it wants to see check out eChalk optical illusions. Scroll down to "Jumbled Words" and click on it. You may be surprised at how your mind works as you read the paragraph. This is a great demonstration of why proof reading is so important.
© 2010, Debbie Parker Wayne, All Rights Reserved