Proofing Report Cards

At my school, we write report cards quarterly. Each student gets a unique paragraph from each teacher. Of course, such lengthy writing needs to be edited, and so we have “buddies” who read through our work. And these reports are lengthy! My editing buddy wrote about 7500 words this quarter — for comparison, that’s several times longer than Swift’s Modest Proposal, and more than a quarter the length of Dickens’ Christmas Carol.

Carefully reading through so many reports (especially while sleep-deprived from staying up late to finish your own the previous night) is a challenge. Here are three tricks I use to help catch errors:

1. Use Find/Replace to remove repeated text. Sometimes we need to add the same note to each report, but there’s no point reading the exact same thing 100 times.

2. Use a screen reader (ie: VoiceOver on Mac, Narrator on Windows), and crank up the reading speed. Since my editing buddy is a pretty good writer, the sporatic mistakes are typos, missed words, or grammatical errors like verb tense agreement. I can hear grammatical errors much better than I can see them, and with a pair of headphones on, I can do the washing-up at the same time.

3. Copy/paste the whole shebang into a text editor (ie: Word). The grammar check on my word processor is better than the spellcheck on my browser, or on Google Docs.

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