Whether you are working as an Administrator, Secretary, PA or Executive, the ability to produce documents to a high standard will always be an essential skill in your repertoire. One of the best ways to ensure you’re doing this is to teach yourself how to proofread effectively. The Institute of Legal Secretaries and PAs have put together a list of their top proofreading tips to help you make sure that your documents are always correct.
- Concentration is key, so remove as many distractions as possible.
- Proofreading cannot be rushed. Read the document slowly, and as many times as you need to, to ensure that you don’t miss anything.
- Print out a copy of the document that you are proofreading if possible rather than editing it on a screen.
- If you are editing on a screen, use the Track Changes function in Word in order to note your changes as you go along.
- If proofreading on a computer, by all means use a spell checker during your first read-through, but remember that it is not infallible, so turn it off and proofread manually before printing or sending.
- Remember that our minds are very good at correcting mistakes, so try reading the document backwards in order to spot spelling mistakes.
- Resting your eyes while proofreading is essential if you are working on a long document. We recommend taking a break every 15 minutes.
- Often, we proofread silently. However, reading the document aloud will often highlight different mistakes. We therefore recommend reading the document both silently and aloud.
- Make sure that your corrections stand out by using a coloured pen.
- Cover the rest of the text with a sheet of paper or ruler so that you only focus on the line you are reading.
- It is easier to proofread for one type of mistake at a time; for instance, proof for spelling mistakes first, then grammar etc., rather than trying to proofread everything at the same time.
- It is easy to miss the little connecting words such as “is,” “of,” “it” and “or,” and these can often get mixed up.
- If you are proofing your own work, don’t try to proofread it as soon as it is finished. Leave some time between finishing the writing and proofing it. Reading it with fresh eyes will mean that you are more likely to spot mistakes.
- Ask someone else to check your proofread work. Sometimes a second set of eyes will spot something new.
The Institute of Legal Secretaries and PAs (ILSPA) is a professional body who are dedicated to your career every step of the way. Whether you would like to become a Legal Secretary or you would like to advance your Legal Secretary career, they are there to support you through your journey. For more information visit www.institutelegalsecretaries.com.