The best way to improve your proofreading skills is practice. But there are other resources available to help you learn or refresh your knowledge of grammar to improve your proofreading. Here are resources that I use regularly:
1. The Gregg Reference Manual. (Available at www.amazon.com). This book is always on my desk (AND on my Kindle app) and is the first place I go when I need information. There are also some worksheets available if you really want to get your “learning” on.
2. A dictionary. With all that is available online, there is no reason to misspell a word or not know what the word means. In addition, http://www.merriam-webster.com/ not only will define a specific word for you but gives you a word of the day and various quizzes to help you improve your vocabulary. There is always a hard copy dictionary as well. Every desk should have access to a dictionary–either book form or electronically.
3. A thesaurus. I use the one that is part of Microsoft Word, particularly when I’m not sure whether the word being used is correct, such as affect/effect. It also helps if you’re not familiar with a word to make sure that it is being used in the correct context.
4. Black’s Law Dictionary (or a more portable legal dictionary). I have a Barron’s Law Dictionary on my desk so I can prove to an attorney that it is statute of limitationS (among other legal words) or to look up a legal term that I don’t understand.
5. Microsoft spell checker and grammar checker. While this is certainly not the “do all be all” of grammar, it can be helpful. Just don’t rely on Microsoft. As great as the Word program is, sometimes the operator has issues all his/her own. For instance, I have a terrible problem typing doe snot instead of does not. Since both doe and snot are correctly spelled, it doesn’t come up as an error. If I didn’t actually read the document, that kind of error would not be caught. The grammar checker can also be helpful but, again, is not enough.
6. Websites. There are lots of websites, blogs, and other online information available. As with all things Internet, however, the authors of these websites and blogs are not incapable of making errors, so get the information and check it against another resource if necessary. My personal favorite is Grammar Girl (http://grammar.quickanddirtytips.com/). Some other fun sites I have found are Grammar Bytes (http://www.chompchomp.com/) and Grammar Slammer (http://englishplus.com/grammar/), although I’m sure there are plenty of others out there. Of course, I hope Proof That Blog (http://proofthatblog.com/) is on YOUR list of resources.
That’s my short list. What is on your go to list of proofreading resources?