Take The Proofreading Test

Are You Ready To Test Your Proofreading Skills?

Even the most grammar-savvy amongst us benefit from a thorough proofreading of our work.

You may rely on an editor to check your work, or like many writers, it might be tempting to do a quick scan of your writing without thoroughly proofreading it.

But proofreading is as essential to your writing as writing is. It allows you to fix any errors that may obscure your intended meaning or distract your reader. It also helps you catch grammar and spelling mistakes, misused words, and punctuation errors.

If you have an editor, he or she can polish your work much more easily (and less expensively) if you’ve given it the careful once-over before the editing process.

If you don’t have an editor, proofreading can save you from embarrassing and critical comments from your readers.

Proofreading makes you a better, more mindful writer and, over time, it will cement the skills you need to be an accomplished writer.

Here’s a checklist of actions you should take to properly proofread your writing:

  • Remove any distractions so you can concentrate on proofing your work.
  • Look for one type of writing problem at a time (first spelling errors, then word usage, etc.).
  • Read your writing out loud and silently.
  • Print a copy of your work to proofread it on paper.
  • Read it backward to spot any spelling mistakes.
  • Look out for homonyms (words that share the same spelling and pronunciation).
  • Double check contractions and apostrophes for common mistakes (like it’s and its or there and their).
  • Review carefully for punctuation mistakes. Look up anything you aren’t sure about.
  • Ask a friend to read your writing after you proofread it to check behind you.

So, why not spend a few minutes assessing your own proofreading skills with an easy and entertaining test?

To make this proofreading test more challenging, I’ve thrown in a variety of hurdles for you to spot and clear as you make your way to the finish line.

woman on Mac computer at desk Proofreading test

Proofreading Test

May you find the following proofreader and copy editor test as helpful and enjoyable as it was excruciating to write. Don’t let my agony be in vain.

Review this letter for mistakes:

Dear Ms. Adams;

We’ve recieved your manuscript and have read enough of it to offer this constructive critique, which we hope you’ll take unto consideration before sending us another sample of your work, we do value you’re time.

1. The beginning of your story is week. Try to evoke an emotional response within the first few paragraphs.

2. You use to many semicolons. Its distracting.

3. You use third person omiscient POV, which in our humble opinion, weakens the impact of your main characters painful situation.

4. You tell more then show what your characters are feeling. As Anton Checkov wrote: “Dont tell me the moon is shining, show me hte glint of light on broken glass.”

5. You switch points of view, jumping from one persons head to another without warning, it’s confusing and you risk loosing your reader’s trust end attention

6. The dialogue feels forced and unathentic: the southern accent is overdone and painful too read.

7. Your use of ellipsis is… awkward. And you use them quite alot. Consider removing most of them. Noone pauses that much..

8. You’re love of dashes is evident. Please eliminate most of them, and and make your sentences shorter clearer, and less wordy.

Related: Hiring The Right Book Editor

9. Please please please stop using dialog tags like “he grinned” or “she sighed”. You can’t sigh or grin words. It can’t be done. Stick with “said” but try to make it more obvious who is saying whom without using dialog tags for every quote. If you must indicate sighs, grins, and other nonverbal gestures set them apart from teh quotes with periods rather than commas.

10. Your main character launches into a stream of conscience monologue and his dialoge partner somehow doesn’t lapse into a coma before he finishes this is wishful thinking and makes it hard to sympathize with the mane character who’s soliloquy is way too long to keep you’re readers attention. We tired but had to skip to the end wear he finally sums it up nicely.

11. We dont really get to now your secondary character well enough to care about what happens to her. She listens to the main character and throws in a few responses hear and their but is otherwise bland and two dimensional. Her boyfriend the main character, does most of the talking, and she stairs out the window a lot and I mean a LOT. Yet we never find out weather she’s waiting for someone or something or if shes just really board. She’s certainly stiff as a board (see what i did they’re?).

12. My fellow editers here at Proper Publishing House agree with all the statements in this letter which I spent ours perfecting ought of sincere gratitude for your efforts and true dat concern for yore development as a writer.

13. We recommend you contact the services of a inexperienced proofreader or copyediter before submitting to us any future writing samples. Good proofreading makes such a deference!

In short let us offer you hour best hopes for the improvement of your writing don’t be discouraged keep at it and remember Proper Publishing House will always bee honest with you because

Sincerely and optimystically

Sarah jane Smythe

Cheif Editer

Corrected Letter

Now, it’s time to compare your corrections with the letter below. Keep in mind that not all your copyediting corrections have to look exactly like mine. There’s room for some creative improvisation. I’ve highlighted the errors and everything added or crossed out.

Dear Ms. Adams:

We’ve received your manuscript and have read enough of it to offer this constructive critique, which we hope you’ll take into consideration before sending us another sample of your work. We do value your time.

1. The beginning of your story is weak. Try to evoke an emotional response within the first few paragraphs.

2. You use too many semicolons. It’s distracting.

3. You use third person omniscient POV, which, in our humble opinion, weakens the impact of your main character’s painful situation.

4. You tell more than show what your characters are feeling. As Anton Chekhov wrote,Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.”

5. You switch points of view, jumping from one person’s head to another without warning. It’s confusing, and you risk losing your reader’s trust and attention.

6. The dialogue feels forced and inauthentic; the Southern accent is overdone and painful to read.

7. Your use of ellipses is… awkward. And you use them quite a lot. Consider removing most of them. No one pauses that much.

8. Your love of dashes is evident. Please eliminate most of them, and and make your sentences shorter, clearer, and less wordy.

9. Please, please, please stop using dialogue tags like “he grinned” or “she sighed.” You can’t sigh or grin words. It can’t be done. Stick with “said,“ but try to make it more obvious who is saying what without using dialogue tags for every quote. If you must indicate sighs, grins, and other nonverbal gestures, set them apart from the quotes with periods rather than commas.

10. Your main character launches into a stream of consciousness monologue, and his dialogue partner somehow doesn’t lapse into a coma before he finishes. This is wishful thinking and makes it hard to sympathize with the main character, whose soliloquy is way too long to keep your reader’s attention. We tried but had to skip to the end where he finally sums it up nicely.

11. We don’t really get to know your secondary character well enough to care about what happens to her. She listens to the main character and throws in a few responses here and there but is otherwise bland and two-dimensional. Her boyfriend, the main character, does most of the talking, and she stares out the window a lot and I mean a LOT. Yet we never find out whether she’s waiting for someone or something or if she’s just really bored. She’s certainly stiff as a board (see what i did they’re?).

12. My fellow editors here at Proper Publishing House agree with all the statements in this letter, which I spent hours perfecting out of sincere gratitude for your efforts and true dat concern for your development as a writer.

13. We recommend you contract the services of an experienced proofreader or copyeditor before submitting to us any future writing samples. Good proofreading makes such a difference!

In conclusion, let us offer you our best hopes for the improvement of your writing. Don’t be discouraged, keep at it, and remember Proper Publishing House will always be honest with you. because

Sincerely and optimistically,

Sarah Jane Smythe

Chief Editor

Recovery Time

Maybe it’s time for a soothing cup of something. No hard feelings, I hope.

If you found value in this proofreading practice test, please share it with others. The purpose of this article, after all, is to help you and your fellow writers more accurately proofread your own work before submitting or publishing it.

It doesn’t hurt that while it was often painful not to proofread the sample letter while writing it, it was also pretty fun. I hope you enjoyed the exercise enough to pass it on.

And may your good humor and selfless commitment to the edification of your fellow writers infuse everything else you do today.