Proofreading tips from University Communications

By Linda Coutant, Ed.D.

If you don’t have access to a professional copy editor, there are proofreading steps you can use to help ensure clean, readable text for publication.

University Communications at Appalachian State University focuses on the “five C’s” in editing and proofreading. We make sure text is clear, correct, concise, comprehensible and consistent.

Here are the important proofreading steps to address the five C’s:

Step 1. Read the text through once fully to understand the concept.

Your first read is simply to understand. It is your brain’s chance to digest the point and meaning of the story and how the text flows. Note what doesn’t flow well, is incomprehensible or could be reworded.

Step. 2. Read the text a second time, word for word.

This is your eyes’ opportunity to proofread word for word, paragraph by paragraph, for errors in grammar or style and to fix word choices or phrasing. See the UComm Editing Checklist for specific issues to watch for.

As you find errors, note them using the Track Changes feature in Word. Use comment balloons for any questions to the writer (as opposed to inserting questions/comments within the text).

Step 3. Read the content a third time.

This reading is to ensure your corrections improve the story and no other errors exist. Also, use the third reading to check AP Style again throughout the document, as well as template formatting if applicable.

Helpful how-tos

  • Read copy of the same font size first, such as all headers, so your eye can catch inconsistencies in that size. Then, review copy of the next font size.
  • Read the copy aloud to help identify any awkward sentence structure.
  • Call any phone numbers and check any web addresses in the text to verify they are correct.
  • Verify facts with another source whenever possible.

RELATED: Editing checklist from University Communications

Questions? Contact:

Jessica Stump
Copy Editor
University Communications

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