Putting out a high quality product is a given these days. With
all the competition out there, you have to look great in every
aspect. So proofreading all copy is extremely important and here
are some tips to help you to proofread your own work after you've
finished editing it:

Read through your copy the next day -- many times your eyes tend
to 'deceive' you by reading what's supposed to be there rather
than what may actually be there! Reading it a day or two later
helps you to look at your copy with a fresh perspective!

Use 'spell check', which is available on most programs. Although
they're not perfect, they will help you to find many errors. A
red squiggly underline means the word may be misspelled, a green
squiggly underline may mean a grammatical or punctuation error.

Print it out. Reading it in print can many times help you catch
things you didn't catch on the screen.

If at all possible, have someone else read it. They can catch
sentences that may be too long, be unclear, etc. You know the
point you're trying to make in your copy, but if others don't
understand it, rewrite it so it's more clear to everyone.

Be very careful how you use words such as 'then' versus 'than'.
These words are used incorrectly quite often but mean different

Then is primarily used to signify time, e.g. "We went to the
grocery, then we went to the bank." Than is primarily used as
a comparison, e.g., "I would rather go hiking than take a nap."

Other words to watch for are loosing versus losing, everyone
versus every one, breathe versus breath, etc.

There are a lot of questions about the hyphen (-) versus dash
(--) and here's the basic rule:

A hyphen is used when you are putting two words together or
adding a prefix to a word. Here are some examples: twenty-four,
re-signed or long-time.

A dash is used when you're interjecting into a sentence (such as,
"I love taking the dog for a walk -- especially on warm days --
because it is great exercise for us both.").

In many programs a dash will look like a long hyphen instead of
two hyphens next to each other. Dashes are also many times used
in place of parentheses in more informal writing.

Punctuation inside or outside the quotes? Here's the basic rule
for this one: if you're using a comma or a period, they go inside
the closing quotation mark. Colons and semicolons go outside the
closing quotation mark.

Question marks and exclamation marks are different and depend on
how they are being used (just to complicate things more!). If you
are directly quoting someone and a question mark or quotation mark
is needed because what you're quoting is a question or exclamation,
it would go inside the quote.

Here's an example for this one: He asked, "Are you going to the
party?" "You bet!" she exclaimed.

If what you're directly quoting isn't a question or exclamation,
the quotes go inside the exclamation or question mark.

An example of this is, 'Did David say, "You must have fallen out
of bed"?', or 'Linda actually said "You must be right"!'

Learning these rules may take a little time but if you print out
this article and post it near your computer, you can refer to it
any time you get confused. Remember, you don't have to worry about
it while you're writing and editing your copy (that's when you just
let the creativity flow); worry about it after all revisions have
been made and it's time to proofread.

You can also go to your local bookstore or library to choose a
Grammar book to read and refer to. There are many to choose from
so look through them to find one you like.

If you feel you don't have time to proofread, don't want the hassle
of trying to learn the rules, or just don't want to worry about it,
you always have the option of hiring a professional proofreader.
Professional proofreaders (as well as copy editors) can be found
via a search on the internet or by asking other writers who they
use (if they have good, clean copy). When you're searching for a
proofreader, make sure they are skilled in the type of writing you
do (business writing versus sales, informal or conversational
writing) and that they have no errors in their copy -- if they
aren't extremely careful with their own work, do you think they
would be with yours?

The money you spend on a professional proofreader, besides easily
being made up with the increased sales you should expect by having
a more professional product, is easily worth the time, effort and
frustration you will save yourself. So take it easy, let the
creativity flow, send the work off to a professional for editing
and/or proofreading, then sit back and relax while your copy is
being groomed to perfection!

Author's Bio: 

Nita is a professional proofreader, copy editor
and the President of Nita Helping Hand? Please visit Nita's
website for information about proofreading, copy-editing and
other administrative needs available at www.NitaHelpingHand.net.
Nita is your 'Partner In Perception'.