August 29, 2011 | Barb Carr

Career Development: 10 Tips for Proofreading Your Investigation Report

Are you finished conducting your TapRooT® Investigation, and wading through the marshes of report writing and proofreading? Don’t make a mistake like the one in this photo. Take a look at these 10 proofreading tips that will help you write a professional, thorough investigation report.

1.)  Rest. You’ve been working those cogs and pistons in your head to conduct your investigation and write your report. Once it’s finished, set your report aside until tomorrow to proofread. If there’s no time for that, grab a cup of coffee and come back to it in 15 minutes. You’ll catch more errors and see it with fresh eyes.

2.)  Print it out. We read differently on the screen than on paper, so you’re likely to catch more errors this way.

3.)  Concentrate. Close your door, turn off your e-mail notifications, and silence that cell phone, if only for 30 minutes. You’ll be able to focus on each detail of your report and proofread much more thoroughly.

4.)  Read it aloud, Read it backward, and Read it multiple times. All these will prevent your eyes from correcting and missing errors on the page, and help you catch your errors more effectively.

5.)  Check your facts. Don’t forget the numbers in your charts and graphs, too.

6.)  Use spell-check, dictionary, and online grammar resources if you’re not sure about a rule. Don’t fully rely on your spell-check, however; it doesn’t catch homonyms such as there, their, and they’re. Try MerriamWebster.com, EnglishGrammar.org, and Purdue’s Online Writing Lab.

7.)  Know thyself. Find out your most frequent errors, and create your own proofreading checklist that reflects these and other important details. Remember grammar, spelling, capitalization, punctuation, and typographical errors.

8.)  Eliminate unnecessary words or information. Example: “The choice of exogenous variables in relation to multi-collinearity is contingent upon the derivations of certain multiple correlation coefficients.” vs. “Supply determines demand.” (Courtesy of Purdue’s Online Writing Lab.)

9.)  Keep your audience in mind. Read through your report, putting yourself in your reader’s shoes. Use appropriate tone, vocabulary, and formatting so your audience will understand exactly what you’re communicating.

10.)  Peer Edit. There’s no way you can catch everything. Ask your most honest, detail-oriented peer to proofread your report. Don’t take offense when he finds mistakes; you’ll thank him for not letting you turn in your report to the “Unclear Regulatory Commission!”

Use these 10 tips and you’ll never submit a rough, unprofessional investigation report again. Learn how to conduct an investigation at one of our TapRooT® Courses!

Photo Courtesy of AP Photo/News & Record, Joseph Rodriguez.

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