Even if your text is destined for paper, the chances are that at the proofreading stage you’re looking at it on a screen.

Because if you’re like me, you started out with a notebook and pen and wrote your ideas out longhand, then went to a computer to type up your ideas. Computers are definitely great for deletions, additions and moving text around.

They’re not great for staring at, though. And if you’re self-proofreading, you probably won’t be using the Microsoft Track Changes facility.

There is a lot to be said, still, for good old-fashioned paper and pens. Printing your text out not only makes it portable, but also allows for a deeper interaction with it. It’s tactile and easier on the eyes.

Write all over your text with coloured pens, annotate it, make corrections. Writing is an organic process, living and breathing, and words want to be interacted with in this way.

You’ll end up with scribbles all over your paper, but correcting with a pen will refresh your interaction with your text, helping you to see it  – and any typos you may have missed onscreen – anew. Then you can go back to your screen.

If you’re anything like me, you’ll end up with a process something like this: 

paper + pen → computer → paper + pen → computer → paper

The perfect partnership between old-school methods and new technology.


What do you think? Do you find it helpful to print your text out, or are you so used to working onscreen you find you don’t have to? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Feel free to post a comment below.