Proofreading is a critical part of the minute taking process.
In this post I wrote about going that one step further and getting your final draft minutes peer reviewed so that a fresh pair of eyes can pick up any errors.
There’s an art to proofreading and it’s a step we quite often skip over. We think, “Let’s just get those minutes done so I can get onto the rest of my work.”
The following are some tips to help you become a better proofreader:
Always proofread your minutes
Review a hard copy
Proofread from hard copy, never from the screen. It’s too easy to miss something if reading directly from the screen.
Take a break
If time allows, set your writing aside for a few hours (or days) after you have finished composing, and then proofread it with fresh eyes.
I used to aim for trying to complete the first draft of the minutes on the same day as the meeting (or within 24 hours) or I’d leave the minutes until the next day and re-read them again. It was surprising what errors I picked up or realised what I wrote just didn’t make sense.
Look for one type of problem at a time
A thorough proofread should take a three-prong approach where you look for different things at each stage.
The three steps are:
- Sentence structures – logical construction of sentences and flow from one paragraph to the next
- Any ‘loose ends’
- Word choice
- Double check all figures
Read your work out loud
This helps you hear a problem eg a missing word, poor sentence construction or bad grammar that you may’ve missed.
This sounds very odd. And it is. Nothing will make sense, but a way to catch spelling errors is to read backwards, from right to left, starting with the last word in the text. Doing this will help you focus on individual words rather than sentences.
Use a ruler
Use a ruler to guide your eyes and only move the ruler down to the next line when you have finished reading that line. This allows you to concentrate on reading one word at a time. This takes practise because when we read, we generally skim over the words fixing our eyes on the words four times in one line. Most people can only accurately take in about six letters. We need to make a conscious effort to look at each individual word.
Create your own proofreading checklist
Keep a list of the types of mistakes you commonly make, and then refer to that list each time you proofread.
Ask for help
Get your work peer reviewed.
Using some of the tips above will help you become a better proofreader and ensure your final minutes are accurate and therefore professional.
Do you have any tips for becoming a better proofreader?