Change The Font For Better Proofreading

Spell-checking is ubiquitous on most applications that accept text input these days, but that doesn't mean proofreading is unimportant: spell checkers can't detect errors of sense or missing words, for a start. You can make yourselves a more effective editor of your own work with a simple trick: change the font.

I was reminded of this tried-and-true technique when it popped up on an IT journalist mailing list over the weekend. If you've been endlessly working over the same text, it's easy to become 'blind' to obvious mistakes and structural problems. Changing to a different font will force you to look at the text with new eyes, and changing the size will also shift the line breaks, which can also be useful.

You can achieve something of the same effect by printing out the document and editing on paper, but the font switch has the advantage of not wasting printouts. For another effective technique to distance yourself from your writing, try reading out loud (or using a text-to-speech app to have text read by your PC). Thanks Alex and Patrick!


    Have someone else read it fro you. At work we try to send round any draft letters and reports between the team in the office and everyone makes corrections on the work...(But even after that there are spelling mistakes and grammar errors haha)

    Will try the font and size change as well as printing it out for better results.

    Another way is to leave it until the next day to have 'fresh eyes'.

    Install a font specifically designed for proofreading: DPCustomMono2


      Hi! I am senior editor at our firm. And I tell you what, the older I get, the more I dink around with fonts for editing. Right now, in fact -- perfect example. I didn't get enough sleep, my eyes are burning, and I've got rush jobs to do. So my trick? Work comes to me in Times New Roman. That's a great font for *reading*, but not great for editing. Not for me.

      Not a problem! It's electronic copy. So I switch fonts. More than once! One font makes spelling errors pop out. Courier, actually, is my favorite for that. The letters are all separate, distinct. (For you it might be a different font). Some fonts squish the letters too close together. You can do it for a few paragraphs, but try editing that all day long and you get headaches. And you miss things.

      Shifting around, you'll find a favorite font for punctuation. Try it. Glide over the fonts, stopping on each, to see what happens to punctuation. In some fonts the punctuation almost disappears. In others, it's big and bold.

      Font choice DEFINITELY makes a difference. If you work here, you'll have to submit your work to me in Times New Roman. That's just for uniformity. But unless I'm just reading to check structure and content, I won't leave it in Times New Roman while I work. When it comes BACK to you, it will be in Times New Roman again -- and you'll never know I was shifting between two and three fonts as I worked (I never give copy a "once over" when I work. I read it down, I read it up, and then I give it a final read through... minimum).

      (This response I did NOT edit... as I'm poaching time off the work clock being here. Sorry!)

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