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How to proof-read copy

Professional steps for outputting clean, grammatically correct copywriting

Jeff Strang
Jeff Strang
Updated
Apr 6, 2020
How to proof-read copy
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Former magazine editor and journalist Jeff Strang offers his thoughts on how to produce clean, grammatically correct copy without the assistance of a sub-editor.

Quality copywriting is difficult; indeed, much harder than is often credited.

As a former editor in a typically under-resourced modern media business, I have proof-read and edited millions of words contributed by writers of every standard.

Even the best professionals seldom submit word-perfect prose. If you struggle as an amateur, take heart, here are a few tips and tools we use routinely to produce material as close to pristine as possible:

Tools Used:

Microsoft Word, Grammarly

Before starting

The quality of the content matters. Put the material first and the proof-reading second. Before starting a draft, it is usually beneficial to:

  • Research the topic
  • Plan the story’s flow and tone
  • Clearly define sections to help the reader process the subject systematically

Time to type

Write a draft in Microsoft Word

  1. Write a first draft in Microsoft Word
  2. Use Microsoft Word’s built-in spelling and grammar checking service – located in Word’s ‘Review’ tab
  3. Switch on the Grammarly service within Microsoft Word and work through the suggested changes – located in Word’s toolbar
  4. Listen to the document by using Microsoft Word’s ‘Read Aloud’ service – located in the Review tab - to pick up additional errors
  5. (If required for additional clarity, tone and reader engagement): Transfer all the copy to the Grammarly App (installed on your machine). Check the document for the required clarity, tone of delivery and reader engagement.

Steps visualised

Step 1: Draft document in Microsoft Word with Grammarly installed.

First draft in Microsoft Word.

Step 2: Review document with Word's built-in review tools.

Microsoft Word in Editor mode

Step 3: Review with Grammarly in Word.

Grammarly installed and running in Microsoft Word

Step 4: Listen to the document with Word's "Read Aloud" feature.

Microsoft Word's "Read Aloud" feature in action.

Step 5: If required, transfer all the copy to the Grammarly App (installed on your machine). Check the document for the required clarity, tone of delivery and reader engagement.

The final step if required - Grammarly native app

More tips & tools

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