Proofreading test
The following passage contains several common errors of the type you are likely to come across in a set of proofs (though not as closely clustered as here, I hope). This test should not be taken too seriously, but, since you have nowhere better to be  than here, I hope that you'll at least find it fun. If you identify all the errors, it doesn't mean that you are a born proofreader; if you miss a few, all is not necessarily lost. It is really nothing more than an attempt to liven up my site by providing you with ten minutes' amusement and perhaps a little education, but if you are the kind of person who enjoys this type of 'spot the deliberate mistake' game then you should certainly enjoy life as a freelance. Feel free to consult a dictionary or any other reference book you have to hand. Here is the test. (You may find it more realistic to work on this printable version.) 
 
 
As we enter the new millenium its difficult to avoid thinking about how the world is changing. In the 1980's few people had even seen a computer, let alone owned one. Now they are on most childrens' christmas wish lists. In the 1990's satelite television was a new and wondrous thing no less than sixteen channels through one ariel! Compare that figure with the hundreds available today. Digital broadcasting has changed our lives to such an extent that the question is no longer 'TV or not TV?' (to misquote Shakespear), but 'Could we manage without it?' Can you imagine life a hundred years ago, when there was neither television or radio. For us, it doesn't bare thinking about, but perhaps our great-grandparents were equally as content to sit round a piano as we are to stare at a screen. There would have been no disagreement about what channel to watch, at least.

Which would you choose as the best of the two period's in which to live? In 1900 there was certainly less leisure time, accomodation was terribly cramped and there were two world wars to come, (not to mention the Spanish influenza pandemic of 1918, which was responsable for the deaths of more British people than the Second World War preceeding it); a holiday was a luxury and there was no modern conveniences. I am not, of course, inferring that all is now perfect. Today we have global warming, gridlocked traffic, GM foods, BSE, ME, AIDS and many other unwelcome contractions, abbreviations and anagrams problems all partly or wholly atttributable to technological advances. On balance, though, I think I would prefer to take my chances in todays silicone-enhanced world of bits and bites than in the troubled times of our forbears.
 

That's the end of the test. For the answers, click here. 
 

          
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Proofreading test answers

The passage is repeated below, with the corrections you should have made in bold type. 

As we enter the new millennium it's difficult to avoid thinking about how the world is changing. In the 1980s few people had even seen a computer, let alone owned one. Now they are on most children's Christmas wish lists. In the 1990s satellite television was a new and wondrous thing no fewer than sixteen channels through one aerial! Compare that figure with the hundreds available today. Digital broadcasting has changed our lives to such an extent that the question is no longer 'TV or not TV?' (to misquote Shakespeare), but 'Could we manage without it?' Can you imagine life a hundred years ago, when there was neither television nor radio? For us, it doesn't bear thinking about, but perhaps our great-grandparents were equally content [or 'as content' either is correct] to sit round a piano as we are to stare at a screen. There would have been no disagreement about which channel to watch, at least.

Which would you choose as the
better of the two periods in which to live? In 1900 there was certainly less leisure time, accommodation was terribly cramped and there were two world wars to come [no comma here] (not to mention the Spanish influenza pandemic of 1918, which was responsible for the deaths of more British people than the First World War preceding it); a holiday was a luxury and there were no modern conveniences. I am not, of course, implying that all is now perfect. Today we have global warming, gridlocked traffic, GM foods, BSE, ME, AIDS and many other unwelcome contractions, abbreviations and acronyms problems all partly or wholly attributable to technological advances. On balance, though, I think I would prefer to take my chances in today's silicon-enhanced world of bits and bytes than in the troubled times of our forebears*.
 

*The misuse of 'forbear' for 'forebear' is now so prevalent as to have become idiomatic. That doesn't make it etymologically correct, of course, but dictionaries have a duty to reflect the language as it is used (which is not always equivalent to how it should be used) and the ignorance of the majority has finally prevailed. (I suspect it won't be long before we see 'fortuitous' as a synonym for 'fortunate' blame football commentators for that one and 'chronic' for 'very bad'.) If you missed this one, don't deduct a point. However, award yourself an extra one if you marked it.

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Well, that's the fun part over with, but if you're serious about doing this sort of thing for a living then you'll need some help to get started. That's where my guide comes in - your next stop on the sidebar.
 

          
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Answers
The test contained a total of thirty errors. Did you spot them all, or would you like to try again?
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