Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Case of Proofreading, Shawna Blumenschein

Proofreading is an essential step for any piece of writing, whether it be a post to the writer’s personal blog or a document for their boss’s review. Despite how vital a step proofreading is, many people either do not bother or fail to spend the time required to do a thorough job. This is somewhat understandable since, as Andrew discusses, proofreading can be a laborious and repetitive task. Furthermore, with the reliance on computer spell check programs it is easy to assume that there are no errors if the computer declares it so.

However, it is a mistake to trust the computer and to shrug off the responsibility of proofreading. Indeed, in the computer age it is even more important to proofread because of the frequency of typos. There are many words in the English language that can be changed into other words with the simple addition of a letter. For example, “though” can easily become “thought” and “breath” can easily become “breathe.” More often than not the writer will know the difference between these words but because of the speed inherent in typing, that extra letter slips onto the end. All of a sudden there is an error within the copy that the computer will not pick up and a sentence that makes no logical sense. Thus it is necessary for writers to perform careful reviews of their written work.

Proofreading one’s own work comes with its own problems. Firstly, since the person proofreading the document also wrote it, he or she knows exactly what it is supposed to say. This leads to missing errors because the brain simply sees what it knows is supposed to be there. Secondly, writers can lack objectivity, especially with creative works. There are strategies to aid in proofreading but like anything else it mostly takes practice and careful attention to detail to succeed.


  1. You bring up a good point regarding the problems of proofreading. I have lost count regarding how many times I have missed a silly spelling mistake because of my lack of objectivity. Staring at a computer screen for so long can cause you to overlook those errors in an attempt to finish something more efficiently.

  2. Very nice. I forgot to mention the potential problems with electronic auto-correction, which can definitely pose some problems.

  3. I like your point about how accidentally adding a letter to a word can turn it into a completely different word that the spell-check won't pick up as misspelled. I find that when I'm typing, my fingers will automatically and subconsciously type a word with a similar spelling but entirely different meaning than the word I had in mind; this usually happens when the word I intend to use is less common than the word I accidentally type instead.

    I completely agree with your statement that it is a mistake to rely entirely on the spell check program.