Dear Copy Bitch: My eyes hurt! I stare at my computer all day and make mistakes left and right–stupid mistakes, too. Do you have any tips for proofreading on a computer monitor?
Answer: Yes, Grumpy, never fear! The Copy Bitch feels your pain and has strategies for proofreading online:
1. Increase/decrease the zoom level on your monitor. When you’ve been staring at a document for hours on end, this one little change is enough to give your precious eyeballs (and brain) a fresh perspective on the words staring back at you. When I’m in Word on my PC, the zoom toggle is in the lower right-hand corner.
2. Highlight the text in yellow. This works especially well for shorter pieces. In Word, the highlight option is usually in the same area as the font face and size options.
3. Read backwards. Start with the last sentence of your document and work your way to the beginning (note: don’t read the sentences themselves backwards). Reading things out of context is a great way to catch mistakes.
4. Do a “find” on your crutch words and problem areas. Do you write “your” when you really mean “you’re”? Do a “find” on “your” and double-check yourself. Do you tend to use fillers like “just,” “very,” “really” or “George Clooney is a god”? Do a search on those words/phrases. Do you type too fast and always use “manger” instead of “manager”? Ditto.
Would love to hear about some other strategies. Leave yours in the comments thread.