Watch your words! Closely proofread your text for common spelling errors.
Yes, yes, I know. Computers are getting smarter by the minute. Software is now able to catch such things as transposed letters within a word as each word is being keyed. Furthermore, the proliferation of documents being voice transcribed makes it is worth the effort to look for spelling errors in the way words are interpreted by software. This holds true for the basic word confusion as noted in the Bermuda Triangle of Grammatical Disaster: there/their/they’re. It can happen, too, when software misinterprets the spelling of a person’s name. This happened recently with a voice to text transmission that I received. The caller, a woman by the name of Maki, was text recorded with the following software error: “Hi, this is Mickey!” So, smart software can have its pitfalls.
Get back to basics with subject/verb agreement.
Nothing jumps out of a text quite like misplaced subject/verb agreement. The subject is a noun or a pronoun, or with a second person pronoun “you” that is implied and therefore missing. The verb can be both active and passive, but the active verbs seem to trip up inexperienced writers the most. When in doubt, consult an online grammar sites such as www.grammarly.com.
Begin with the end in mind.
Reading a manuscript carefully after the spell check and the grammatical software has caught a number of errors is always a good plan. Going through the manuscript again and looking closely at words that could pass for the correct usage and spelling is another pass worth taking. The last step for an error-free document is to take the time to read the entire document backwards, whether it is a article, paper or blog post. That’s right, I wrote backwards – word by word. In doing so, the proofreader catches every single stray error that can affect the integrity of the document.