Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Proofreading: It's What's For Lunch

Everyone seems to have their own proofreading strategies and, wouldn't you know it, I'm going to list mine here for you just as if you don't have any of your own. Disclaimer: None of this applies to my blog. If you were to go looking through my posts, you'd find oodles of little bitty, perfectly reasonable errors, all of them inconsequential, some of them charming and possibly even endearing.

If you're still reading, here are my proofreading tips:

I don't proofread my files until I've been away from them for a while. I have a very short memory and can't remember what I transcribed an hour ago, so if I wait a while before I proof them, it's like proofreading somebody's else's work, which is much more fun than proofing my own. If you've ever been in QA, you know what I mean.

Sometimes I proofread documents from the end to the beginning, the same way I read books when I was a kid. (I always wanted to know how they ended before I invested any time in them, which really annoyed the school librarian.) Proofreading backwards gives me a whole new view of the text, and that way I don't just zip along quickly and miss errors.

Speaking of view, I always change the page view before I proof. I make the text much bigger than it was when I transcribed it. That's another way I trick myself into thinking I've never seen this document before. (I am easily tricked; I even set my clock ahead so that, when the alarm goes off, I'm actually up early, and I never catch on.)

Much to my sister’s dismay, I sometimes proof out loud (not the patients' names or any other identifying information, of course, as that would be a HIPAA violation). She has learned a great deal about drug dosages and lab tests because of this habit of mine, enough so that she sometimes understands what's going on when we're watching ER and will turn to me and say, "Isn't that too much heparin?" Proofing out loud makes errors jump off the page.

When proofing, I run my cursor along each line as I'm reading it. I'm easily amused and like to play with the cursor, and it helps guide my eyes along the lines. Otherwise I'll end up proofing the document the same way the doctor transcribed it...bouncing around from paragraph to paragraph, all over the road.

And last, but not least, I do my proofreading while eating lunch. Chewing keeps me from getting bored. Also, when I'm eating, I'm generally very happy, so proofreading isn't a chore for's something I look forward to. I'm afraid that sometimes proofreading is the highlight of my day, but that's fodder for another post altogether.


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