eReaders as Proofreading Tools

One of the beautiful things about the Kindle is that it’s fairly easy to put your own content onto it. Stick a USB cable in, attach it to your computer, copy and paste files into the documents folder, and as long as the document’s a supported format (of which there are plenty,) you’re golden! You’ve got your document on your Kindle.

This can be really valuable for any writer in several ways. Naturally the first use most people will think of is creating Kindle ebooks for distribution and/or sale, but that’s not the limit.

How about using it as a proofreading tool?

One of the best ways of self-editing a document (which we all have to do, no matter how many other people will be looking at our work too) is to change how you view it. If you wrote it on paper, get it on the screen and look at it that way. If you wrote it on a screen, put it on paper. Especially if that paper is coated with eInk.

When you proofread on eInk, you can change how you’re looking at the document in many ways, at any time, as many times as you like. You can make the font size bigger, change the typeface, the line spacing, the words per line, even the screen rotation. And those are just the Kindle options, other eReaders may have other options to explore.

Every change you make alters how your brain processes the words you’re reading, which helps combat the “too close to the work” issue that makes editing your own work such a challenge. When you’re too close to it, your brain remembers roughly what to expect, and our brains are far too good at seeing exactly what we expect, instead of what’s really there.

Anything you can do to change up the display counteracts the brain’s habit of filling in errors with expectations, and makes it more likely you’ll spot unexpected typos, missing words or awkward-sounding phrasings.

eInk is my preferred choice for this, but the same can be accomplished with any reader, and in fact it’s a good idea to use eInk and other readers in combination, if possible. Right now color eInk displays are uncommon, and color is yet another way to change things up. So grab your tablet if you have one, or a computer-based reader and get proofreading.