What strikes you about the pictured passages?




No matter how good you are at spelling, grammar and punctuation, never underestimate the importance of proof-reading to check that your work makes sense!

Here are some tips for maximising your proof-reading skills:

  1. Whenever you change something in your writing, re-read the entire sentence to make sure that your amendment has not created any mistake or ambiguity.
  2. Leave your work for a while and come back to it with fresh eyes (preferably at least a few days later).
  3. Proof your work in a quiet place where you will not be distracted.
  4. Read your work aloud. If you stumble at any point, ask yourself why and consider what would make your work more reader-friendly.
  5. Read word by word rather than scanning. Your eyes will try to trick you into seeing what you think you have written!
  6. Never ignore Microsoft’s spellcheck markings: consider them and then decide whether to ignore them or amend what you have written. Check any peculiar words and then right-click and ‘add to dictionary’. (This option can also be used to teach your computer Australian English!)
  7. If your work is on a screen, print it out to proof it.
  8. Whether or not you trust your own proof-reading abilities, give your work to somebody else to double-check. We are all human and, in substantial pieces of writing, perfection can only be achieved through careful reading by more than one set of eyes.


Solutions to the pictured examples:

  1. How many seals were there?
  2. The word ‘use’ at the end of the first sentence is superfluous.
  3. Always take extra care not to misquote anybody! Does she have a poker face or not? It should read: ‘I don’t have a poker face.’


The original version of this article was published as ‘Frustrations of an English Pedant’ in The Australian Writer issue 379 (March–May 2013).

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