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Here a Resource, There a Resource, Everywhere a Resource

Posted By Kathy Sieckman, PP, PLS-SC, ACP, Monday, July 24, 2017

The best way to improve your proofreading skills is practice. But there are other resources available to help you learn or refresh your knowledge of grammar to improve your proofreading. Here are resources that I use regularly:

1. The Gregg Reference Manual. (Available at www.amazon.com). This book is always on my desk (and on my Kindle app) and is the first place I go when I need information. There are also some worksheets available if you really want to get your “learning” on. This is the resource for the Written Communications sections of NALS’ certification exams.

2. A dictionary. With all that is available online, there is no reason to misspell a word or not know what the word means. In addition, http://www.merriam-webster.com/ not only will define a specific word for you but gives you a word of the day and various quizzes to help you improve your vocabulary. There is always a hard copy dictionary as well. Every desk should have access to a dictionary—either book form or electronically.

3. A thesaurus. I use the one that is part of Microsoft Word, particularly when I am not sure whether the word being used is correct, such as affect/effect. It also helps if you are not familiar with a word to make sure that it is being used in the correct context.

4. Black’s Law Dictionary (or a more portable legal dictionary). I have a Barron’s Law Dictionary on my desk so I can prove to an attorney that it is a statute of limitations (among other legal words) or to look up a legal term that I do not understand.

5. Microsoft spell checker and grammar checker. While this is certainly not the “do all be all” of grammar, it can be helpful. Just do not rely on Microsoft. As great as the Word program is, sometimes the operator has issues all his/her own. For instance, I have a terrible problem typing "doe snot" instead of "does not". Since both "doe" and "snot" are correctly spelled, it does not come up as an error. If I did not actually read the document, that kind of error would not be caught. The grammar checker can also be helpful but, again, is not enough.

6. Websites. There are lots of websites, blogs, and other online information available. As with all things Internet, however, the authors of these websites and blogs are not incapable of making errors, so get the information and check it against another resource if necessary. My personal favorite is Grammar Girl (http://grammar.quickanddirtytips.com/). Some other fun sites I have found are Grammar Bytes (http://www.chompchomp.com/) and Grammar Slammer (http://englishplus.com/grammar/), although I am sure there are plenty of others out there. Of course, I hope Proof That Blog (http://proofthatblog.com/) is on YOUR list of resources.

That is my short list.


What is on your go-to list of proofreading resources?

Kathy Sieckman, PP, PLS-SC, ACP, has been a member of NALS for over 30 years, is the Immediate Past President of NALS of Phoenix, and is the Vice Chair of the NALS Editorial Board. Kathy is currently the Administrator-Arizona for Sacks, Ricketts & Case in Phoenix, Arizona. Kathy earned her Associate of Applied Science degree in Legal Assisting (with distinction) from Phoenix College. In her spare time, when she is not spending time with her husband, two kids, and seven grandchildren or celebrating something with friends, Kathy writes a blog on proofreading tips at ProofThatBlog.com and a blog on life advice gained in growing older at 60istheNew60Blog.com.


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