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Syntax Training | Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

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February 08, 2011


Penny McKinlay

I have proofread extremely long documents online and feel confident about the results. The challenge lies in proofreading one's own writing. And in that case, I am like you and proofread from a print copy as it provides me with a fresh perspective on my work.

Val Span

And always REREAD any changes you've made, including the sentences before and after (easier said than done sometimes).


I take a red pen to my own work frequently! It's the only way to ensure you don't make little mistakes.


I agree with you, Lynn.

For some reason, seeing the text in print changes my perspective and flushes out mistakes that I hadn't caught while editing on the computer screen.

bransom bean

I absolutely agree but I also read the printed copy out load - it's amazing what pops out of that

Paul Kelly

Bransom - I can't figure out whether the typo in your recent post was intentional. In any case, it beautifully illustrates the problem of reading from the screen raised by Lynn.

Cathy Miller

I absolutely have to print for proofing. I don't know if my baby boomer eyes are the culprit, but I am always sorry if I don't.

I also copy my blog posts into Word to proof before hitting "Send." I am constantly amazed how many errors I miss. Even though the Word editing isn't perfect, it also helps pick up errors.


I too, believe that proofreading on paper is a requirement when proofreading your own work or even the work of others that you have had to edit heavily.
Like Cathy the eyes can be an issue, but one way to help that can be to make the text double spaced temporarily.

Jen Reeves

Like the rest, I agree. I used to work for an online-only magazine, and we simply had to print it all out. When we didn't, the content suffered.

(We used to make ourselves feel better by saying the draft was the only printed copy).

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Thanks, everyone, for your input.

Penny, your point about being successful proofreading others' writing online makes sense.

Val, I can't believe how often a changed sentence creates trouble. Even something as small as changing "Thanks" to "Thank you" can leave us with "Thanks you"!

Megan, the infamous red pen! People in my writing class often fear I will pull one out.

Yoav, I appreciate your correct use of "flushes." So often people use that word when they mean "fleshes."

Bransom, I agree. I always recommend reading aloud. I do it whispering at my desk.

Paul, I enjoyed your appreciation of Bransom's great illustration.

Cathy, speaking of baby boomer eyes, I recommend changing the screen view to 150% or even more. Like you, I move my blog posts to Word and proofread them there before publishing them.

MaryHazel, double spacing is an excellent idea.

Jen, it's funny to think of an online magazine being proofread in print. Your example shows how important the printing step is.

Well, I hope I haven't made any typos in this comment!

Thanks for taking the time to share.



I agree--it's much easier to see mistakes in the printed version. But today I was updating a marketing slick that I'd just created last week. It had gone through several layers of management reviews. I was given a printed "red-lined" version and asked to make the edits in an InDesign doc. I saw something else that might need to be changed, so I copied and pasted the text from InDesign into an email to ask my reviewer if he wanted me to change it. When I looked at the email,I saw another error that about 7 people had missed--mulitple instead of multiple! Quite often, I copy and paste text into an email or a Notepad document, and then the error pops out at me. Saves a tree or two that way.

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Karla, what an example! All those people saw mulitple and did not catch it.

From what you said, I am guessing InDesign does not have a grammar and spelling checker. If it doesn't, that would be another good reason to copy a piece into an email.

Thanks for telling your story.


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