Here’s a handy trick for proofreading more effectively that I learned years ago from a boss: read what you’re proofing backwards. Start at the end, and read it word-for-word in the wrong direction.
I’m completely serious, and it’s one of the most effective ways I’ve found — especially when I’m proofing something I wrote. That’s a common problem, because most people just can’t proofread their own work with any accuracy. You see, our brains do an excellent job filling in gaps and making corrections without us being aware. If there’s something you’ve written, and there’s a typo, your brain will know what it’s supposed to say and make you think it’s correct. Or, if there’s a missing word or two, the brain will fill it in.
But when you read backwards, your brain can’t make all those corrections. It’s far more difficult to do, so your brain will have to focus on each word individually and decide whether it makes sense. You’ll also look at punctuation and sentence structure in new ways when you read backwards. Give it a try the next time you have to check something you’ve written. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.