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Eye here ewe like to reed and right; bee careful to proof reed two!

Eye here ewe like to reed and right; bee careful to proof reed two!

by Diana Davis

In this computer age, we can lapse when it comes to proofreading, expecting the computer to catch our errors. Microsoft Word approved the title of this piece when I ran the spell-checker; yet, it probably took you a minute to make any sense of that line. Here are some proofreading tips that can help you stay on top of the spell-checker:

1.         Examine each word individually. Some books suggest that moving a pencil under each line helps you to locate words you left out or repeated.

2.         Make sure each sentence has a subject and a complete verb making up an independent clause–one that is it is able to stand on its own–leave no fragments.

3.         Check for subject/verb agreements i.e., if the subject is singular, the verb must be singular; if the subject is plural, the verb must be plural.

4.         Make sure items in a series are in parallel form. For example: “Being a good friend involves good listening skills, to be kind, and that you know how to have fun.” It should read: “Being a good friend involves knowing how to listen, being kind and having fun.”

5.         Check for noun/pronoun reference agreements. Skim your paper, stopping at each pronoun. Look for the noun that the pronoun replaces. If you cannot find the noun, change the pronoun to a noun. If you do find a noun, be sure it agrees in number and person with your pronoun. Remember that inanimate nouns such as “company” or “school” carry the pronoun “it.”

6.         Check for words that end in “s.” Be sure you have the apostrophe if the “s” indicates possession.

7.         Read your paper aloud. If you find a sentence that is awkward or confusing for you, it will be baffling for your reader.

8.         Check your homonyms. Spell check won’t help when you have a correct spelling but the wrong meaning. It’s up to you to be “right” when you “write.”


Diana Davis is a poet, short-story writer, magazine article writer and freelancer, working from her home in Florissant, Missouri. She holds a master of fine arts degree from University of Missouri-St. Louis and occasionally teaches at area community colleges. She has been published in books and journals such as: A Cup of Comfort for Teachers, St. Louis Events Magazine, The Torch, An Archer’s Dream, and Cuivre River Anthology.

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