Proofreading prevents the “OhNoSecond”

Edvard Munch's The Scream

Ohhhh, noooo! They didn’t proofread! Edvard Munch’s “The Scream” image courtesy of Wikipedia.

Have you ever published a post, tweeted on Twitter, or replied to a blog/Facebook comment, only to realize a moment later that there’s a mistake in what you said? Congratulations, people. You’ve experienced the “OhNoSecond.”

As a professional proofreader, it’s my job to help clients avoid embarrassing moments such as the “OhNoSecond.” I use different tricks when I’m proofreading printed work. Sometimes I’ll read a project from the beginning to the end and then from the end back to the beginning. Reading backwards can be helpful because it’s all too easy to skip over certain words or lines and reading backwards forces your eyes to concentrate to a greater degree, so you’re more likely to catch any mistakes.

Other tricks I use involve reading each project twice or using the edge of a brightly colored envelope (neon green or red, for instance). I move the envelope downward, line by line, as I proofread. The bright color enhances visual acuity and is also a good way to pick up any errors.

In social media, proofreading is more difficult because it’s all on your screen and is rarely printed out. Depending on the social media platform you use, you get a chance to fix your mistakes. But on other platforms, your message stays out there and all you can do is send a follow-up.


Prison cell. Your fate if you forget to proofread.

Where you get sent by the Proofreading Police if you fail to proofread. Prison cell image courtesy of kconnors, Morguefile.


Save yourselves from the “OhNoSecond” now, people. Take a little extra time to read over what you say before you send it. Remember: What goes on the Web, stays on the Web.


Filed under Proofreading

26 responses to “Proofreading prevents the “OhNoSecond”

  1. J. G. Burdette

    I admit I’m a terrible proofreader, as you’ve probably noticed. I leave all kinds of mistakes behind via comments. When it comes to my blog posts, I have to proofread them over and over again before publishing and then I still find mistakes. Sometimes I can enlist someone’s help.

  2. J. G. Burdette

    Forgot to mention I enjoyed this post a great deal. Ha, there’s proofreading for you!

  3. Reading backwards is a wonderful technique. I am just not as diligent about doing it as I should be. This post is a good reminder that I need to be.

    A technique that’s been helpful to me when reading text online is highlighting a line as I read it; otherwise, my eye can lose its place a little too easily.

    Other than all of that, I do not remember how I landed at this blog initially, but I’m glad I did. : D

  4. So, when you read backwards, do you read word by word or sentence by sentence? Because if it’s word by word, I wouldn’t even understand what it says in the first place. 😕

    • I read word by word. This method is not easy, but it does increase your ability to detect letters or punctuation that is out of place.

      • I think I’m a God-gifted guy because without having to put too much pressure or attention into reading, I can spot out every little mistake, especially silly grammar and all kinda spelling mistakes, at first sight. It’s like they blink. 😉

      • Which means you have great visual acuity. And did you know that doing word search puzzles, the kind where you circle words hidden among random letters, is good for proofreaders? This type of puzzle sharpens your ability to spot errors.

  5. Great tips! I hate that oh no second! Thanks for sharing.

  6. Like your suggestions – am going to use the proofread backwards on my stuff.

  7. I decided to check out your blog after reading your comment on mine, and wow. Great tips—I will definitely be coming back. I wish I’d thought of the “reading backwards” tip myself! Would have saved me from many, many moments of agony and stupidity.

  8. I have an “ohnosecond” almost every time I post my blogs. Good thing there’s an edit button. Some good techniques here to try.

  9. I try to go back the next day to re-read a post, but sometimes mistakes still slip through. I actually don’t like the spell check on iPad, as it Americanises everything, and sometimes completely changes words. If you are not constantly keeping an eye out for this, all sorts of weird words get through.

  10. Thanks for the tips of technique. I proofread my own indexes after writing and editing — some of those should help. (But I do hire a proofreader for a final read-through before submitting it. Sometimes you’re just too close when you’re proofing your own!)

  11. The need to proofread is proof itself that we are human, and sometimes that is not what we want to hear. That said, I think I will benefit from this reading backwards technique, as so many appear to have already. Thanks!

  12. Eta Kushner

    Great, you for works it if but! Efficiently backwards read to able being imagine can’t I.


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