What is fact checking in proofreading? In a time where information is published and shared faster than ever, proofreading and content accuracy can’t be understated. Today, proofreading means much more than just correcting typos and spelling errors. It’s about ensuring the credibility and integrity of your work.
Whether you’re a student submitting an assignment, a content creator presenting a proposal or a writer publishing content online, accuracy in proofreading can help you sidestep errors and misinformation that could hurt your credibility or even your reputation. Here’s how:
Proofreading is an invaluable tool in the fight against misinformation and disinformation. When you read a website or a document full of errors or inaccurate information, how does it make you feel about the person or company who produced it? It hurts their credibility and cheapens your user experience. Accurate proofreading helps encourage trust and value in the work you create.
Beyond credibility and professionalism, proofreading brings clarity. You want to ensure that your work is readable and understandable by your target audience. Great writing begins with clear, concise and coherent content. Beyond that, high quality documents suggest a greater attention to detail, diligence and professionalism that goes beyond the content itself.
What Exactly Does a Proofreader Do?
Traditionally, proofreaders help spot and fix errors in writing to make sure it’s clear and easily understood. They can also identify any areas that are ambiguous or don’t flow well and can correct writing for better consistency. When you read your own writing enough, these kinds of things tend to slip past you!
Proofreading is about more than just highlighting errors though. It’s a quality control process – an extra but necessary step in a world where tons of information (some of it incorrect and misleading) is at your fingertips. Proofreading is like the icing on the cake – a valuable, helpful way to ensure that the content you produce is consistently top tier.
Techniques for More Accurate Proofreading
Whether you’re a writer looking to improve your work or a content publisher who’s looking to post error-free, reliable information that your visitors can count on, knowing some basic techniques for more accurate proofreading can help you truly make your content shine:
Take a Break - Sometimes, taking a step back from your writing and looking at it again with fresh eyes can make mistakes pop out that you may have subconsciously passed over before.
Read Your Content Aloud - Bonus points if you print it out. Reading a physical copy aloud can draw your attention to errors you may not have noticed before on screen.
Read Backward - Read starting from your last sentence going backward. This helps disrupt your brain’s narrative “flow” and makes you focus on the individual sentences themselves.
Use Technology - Grammar and spell checkers are helpful tools but won’t replace a keen eye when it comes to checking for flow, tone, style and consistency. Remember, tools like readability checkers and other technologies are meant to complement, not replace, the vital work you’re doing.
Another Set of Eyes - Sometimes it can help have another set of eyes on your work to catch any mistakes you missed. Having a peer or a colleague review your writing can also show you areas for improvement.
What are Some of the Most Common Proofreading Pitfalls?
Although the goal of proofreading is to root out errors and other inaccuracies, even the best proofreaders are still prone to making mistakes, including:
Relying Too Much on Technology - With tools like Grammarly and ProWritingAid available to help do much of the heavy lifting of checking an article for tone and style inaccuracies in addition to typos, it can be temptingly easy for proofreaders to rely a little too much on technology.
Skimming the Text - Giving the text a single pass or thinking that it must be fine just because you wrote it (a common mistake of professional writers!) is more common than you might think. Proofread it anyway!
Overfamiliarity with the Content - Being super familiar with the content can also make you “blind” to common or persistent errors. After you read something a a nubmer of times, your brain starts to fill in the gaps in the interest of speed and efficiency. Did you catch the two errors in the prior sentence?
Ignoring Consistency Errors - Inconsistencies in tense, terminology, voice and style can be just as distracting to readers as spelling and grammatical errors and they can be so nuanced at times that it can be difficult for even an AI-trained system to recognize them.
Over-editing - There’s a fine line between proofreading and rewriting to the point of going beyond ordinary corrections. Sometimes, overzealous proofreaders will try to change the original writer’s intent or message. It’s vital when proofreading to maintain the original tone and style while being able to make the necessary corrections.
What Does the Future of Proofreading Look Like?
The future of proofreading is an exciting time, especially as AI and other tools experience ongoing developments and tighter integration within the programs and platforms that we use every day. Although modern AI-based grammar and style tools are impressive in their own right, you can expect them to become even more sophisticated, understanding things on a contextual level and going deeper than what’s possible beyond a simple grammar or style check.
There’s also a great deal of excitement around the multilingual capabilities of AI tools. As AI becomes more proficient on many different data sets from many different parts of the world, it will become more and more adept at handling dialects and regional variations, making it easier for translated content to be prepared at the same time as content in the original language.
Rather than replacing human proofreaders, AI-based proofreaders could be trained to align with certain style guides, making the human proofreading process more efficient while still keeping a human in the loop.
Plus, as AI handles more of the basic proofreading tasks, this frees up humans to do more in-depth work where having human knowledge and understanding are helpful such as fine-tuning content for a certain audience or platform, handling fact-checking or ensuring cultural sensitivity – things that AI currently struggles with.