E.g., 04/07/2020
E.g., 04/07/2020

Five "Cheats" for Linguists to Use for Proofreading

By: Stacey Brown-Sommers, President - Mindlink Resources, Inc.

10 March 2016

Remember in school, you probably excelled at taking a test where you were given a page and asked to answer questions based on your knowledge alone? (Personally, I suffer from "test anxiety" so I don't miss this!). The good news is, when you are performing proofreading tasks you get to "cheat" and use valuable tools to help you make sure the deliverable is great quality. In fact, relying on your own knowledge can result in small issues slipping through that might cause your client to have concerns about your document's quality. So why risk it?

Here are five features that are already part of Microsoft Word that you should be familiar with if you are proofreading a document:

1. Use Proofreading Feature in Target Language

Ensuring the proper editing tools are set up will help automate and find many common mistakes. Microsoft allows for most languages to download proofing tools which will enable spell check, grammar check, and other important features. First you have to install the proofing tools to your system. After you install, make sure the document is set to the target language. Once everything is set up properly, any misspelled word or grammar error will be highlighted.


Get to this screen from clicking Review, Languages, Language Preferences. Make sure the target language proofing tools say installed

2. Show Formatting Marks

Activate the "Show Formatting Marks" feature in the Word File is a great way to spot formatting issues. Just click on the paragraph icon. This will help you immediately see and fix any problems related to the format (like spacing issues).


Find this icon from the "Home" screen.

3. Headers

Don't just update font sizes and colors, the document should put to use the heading features. This is the best way to ensure consistency in the format. You can make one change to a header and it will update every instance throughout the document. This is handy, especially for long documents.


You can access and adjust the headers from the home screen. Just select the text and click on the header that best applies.

4. Search and Replace

Make sure proper product names and other important terminology stays consistent by using "Search and Replace". This is great for big documents so you don't have to check line by line for things like "TM" or "(R)" symbols.

Get to this screen by pressing CTRL + F, click the down arrow by the magnifying glass and select "Replace".

Get to this screen by pressing CTRL + F, click the down arrow by the magnifying glass and select "Replace".

5. Track Changes

Using "Track Changes" is a great way to keep a record of your changes. This is useful to show the client or the translator what you changed in case they want to review it. It's also good for you to monitor any issue that may come up a lot so you can report it. Many clients require proofreaders to use "Track Changes". I recommend delivering a "Track Changes" and a "Clean" document (where you approve all changes) when you submit your completed file. Your clients will love you.

track changes

Access "Track Changes" from the "Review" Tab. Make sure the option is selected and then start making your changes. Word will be tracking it!

Do you have more ideas on features you should be using to proofreading documents? Send me an email: [email protected]

Stacey Brown-Sommers

Stacey Brown is the Talent Management Specialist and President of Mindlink Resources, LLC. She has a passion for surrounding herself with talented people. For the past 15 years she has successfully built teams of contractors providing a variety of services at large fortune 500 companies in the Pacific Northwest. She specifically has over 12 years of experience recruiting, training and managing QA specialists. Stacey has a degree in Communications and an MBA in Technology Management. She has recently received her certification to be a whole-person coach. She lives with her partner, step-daughter, and two cats in the Columbia River Gorge in Washington State.