Take a sequenced approach - Step 7 – Proof

7 Steps to Better Writing - Charles Maxwell 2020

Take a sequenced approach
Step 7 – Proof

With many aspects to consider, it helps to proof systematically. Sweat over the big things first. Then move to smaller details. Do not waste time carefully proofing spelling and fine tuning punctuation if whole sections of the report are redundant or awkwardly phrased. Do major deletions and heavy rewriting before fine-tuning.

This does not mean that you cannot correct an error as you see it, but you should make multiple passes through a document looking for fundamental errors first. Consider using this punch list for making corrections:

1. Substance

2. Logic

3. Organization

4. Transitions

5. Word choice

6. Grammar

7. Spelling

8. Capitalization

9. Punctuation

10. Overall visual appearance


Does the piece provide readers what they need? Do you address all the important issues? Do you provide sufficient details? Will your message evoke the response you desire?


Is the logic sound? What can you do to make the reasoning easier for your readers to follow?


Is the document well organized? Do the parts fit together to build a whole message? Do the elements follow one another in the best sequence?


Do your ideas flow naturally? Did you use transitional phrases and words to link sentences and paragraphs?

Word choice

Do your words create the right tone? Are your words clear, precise, and vivid?


Is the grammar correct?


Are the words spelled correctly?


Does capitalization adhere to common practice or to your style guide?


Is the punctuation appropriate?

Visual appearance

Is the document aesthetically appealing? Are the headers, footers, titles, and section headings attractive and consistent? Are figures and tables clear? Are line spaces and margins consistent? Does the document balance white space, text, and images?