Proof Reading Habits and How to Solve Them

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Proof Reading Habits and How to Solve Them


Moving Your Head as You Read

This is a habit, which is carry-over from the time when you first learned to read. When children learned to read, they have difficulty moving only their eyes straight across a line of print. Due to this lack of eye control, many children move their entire head from left to right as they proceed across the line. While this habit may be necessary for adults with adequate visual control. Infect moving the head rather than just the eyes prevent adult readers from reading at even a normal reading rate also creates strain and muscular fatigue. Ask someone one to check to see if you move your head while reading. This person should check when you are not consciously thinking about this particular problem.

Solution: If you have this habit, it is probably a very old one which will take serious effort to overcome. The easiest and inconspicuous way to break it is to sit with your elbow up on your desk with your hand cupping your chin. If you start to move your head, you will feel your hand and forearm move and this will remind you to stop.


Moving Your Lips as You Read

Lip movement while reading silently is also a carry-over from begging reading experiences. When you were first learning to read, did you read orally (out loud) or silently? Most students are taught to read orally first, partly so the teacher can know if the children are identifying the words correctly. Later on, in second and third grade, the teacher tells students to read silently. At this stage, while making the change over from mostly oral to mostly silent reading, many children move their lips. Eventually, when the change-over is completed, Lip movement should be eliminated. For some students, however, this habit hangs on. For an adult, lip movement result is an extremely slow silent reading rate. The average adult rate of speech (pronouncing words out loud) is 125 words per minute, while the average adult rate for silent reading is 250-300 words per minute. You can see that moving your lips can really slow your silent reading down — by as much as half.

Solution: Young children have sometimes broken off the habit of lip movement by having them held a pencil horizontally between their lips as they read. When their lips move the pencil wiggles or drops. Since this technique is not exactly approximately for adults, you may wish to try a more sophisticated version. Sit in a position so that part of your head of your figures touches your lips. If you move your lips while reading you will feel the movement on your hand or figures.


Keep Your Place on the Line

 A third bad habit left over from childhood reading is keeping your place on a line of print by moving your figure, pen, or pencil across the line as you read. Children are sometime allowed to do this because they lack the eye control to keep their eyes from jumping from the line to line or to move their eyes straight across one line smoothly. For adults, however, this habit results in very slow word-by-word reading.

Solution: This one is simple —- tightly grasp the book with both hands; this will prevent you from following across the line with a figure, pen, or pencil. Be careful you don’t cheat and slide your thumb down the margin as a guide to where you are on the page.


Using an Index Card or Ruler as a Guide

 A number of students use a hand, an index card, or a ruler to guide their movement down the page. This technique is called placing, is frequently taught in speed reading course as a means of forcing students to read faster. It does nothing; however, to improve your understanding of what you are reading and keeps you from doing more helpful things like textbook marking.

Solution: Force yourself to read without any aids. Read with a pen or pencil in your hand.


Obtaining on Appropriate Angle of Vision

 Most students read with the book lying flat on a desk or table. This may seem comfortable for a while, but it contributes to eye strain due to the angle of vision created. Ideally, there should be a 90o angle formed by your line of vision and the surface of the printed page. When the book is lying flat and you are sitting upright, the angle is less than 90o.

Solution: Hold your book at a 90o angle to your line of vision. A bookstand may be helpful if you plan to read for an extended period of time.



The eyes move and stop move and stop, as they go from left to right across the line. When the stops, or fixate, they see a part of word, a word, a perhaps a group of words. Then the eyes may further to the right and stop again.

Sometimes, however, the eyes move backward instead of going on the next word. They move backward, or regress, to a word already read, either in the same line or in a previous line. This kind of backward movement is called Regression. While an occasional regression is necessary, some readers make two or three regressions per line. Such regressions cause a reader to see a sentence in scrambled order and may prevent the reader from understanding the sentence meaning.

Solution:  The habit is best overcome by forcing your eyes to move forward across the line and not to regress unless there is a phrase or sentence you do not understand. Remember that the idea expressed in a sentence is not complete until the sentence is finished. If in mid-sentence you feel insecure and think you do not understand the meaning, you are probably right. You will not get the full meaning until you have finished the sentence. Force yourself to read the whole sentence before going back. If you are confused after finishing the sentence, then reread it.


Conflicting Physical Activities

Reading is both a physical and mental process. The movement of an eye across the line of print is a physical activity. Understanding and getting meaning out of what your eyes see is a mental activity. You probably are aware that certain physical activities interfere with one and another, especially if they are patterned or rhythmical. Try petting your head while rubbing your stomach. Each activity is easy when done separately; but when done together, they become confusing.

A similar interference may occur with reading when it is done in conjunction with other physical activities. Activities such as gum chewing or tapping the foot to music tend to create a rhythm which can interfere with the rhythm of your eyes moving across a line. Even listening to someone type in the background can be distracting. If you chew gum while you read, you may find yourself reading at the same place you chew at the same rate you read.

Solution: Take a moment to be sure that your own action or things around you are not interfering with your reading. If you find some of your actions or certain background noise distracting, stop the action or change the time and / or place of your study.



Most students and most adults do not read as well or as fast as they could. This is, in part, due to the existence of a number of ineffective reading habits which interfere with both rate and comprehension. Among the most common ineffective reading habits are head movements, lip movement, use of figure, pen, or pencil to keep your place online: poor angle of vision: regression: and conflicting physical activities. This chapter discussed these habits — how they developed, how they interfere with effective reading — and offered suggestions on how to correct them.


READING SPEED                                             RECOMMENDED READING TIMES

1st Reading ———– minute                                         9 Minutes = 91 wpm

2nd reading ———– minute                                        8 Minutes = 102 wpm

7 Minutes = 117 wpm

6 Minutes = 135 wpm

5 Minutes = 163 wpm



            Habit                                                  Often                      Sometimes                 Never

Head movement

Lip movement

Losing place on line

Angle of vision


Conflicting physical activities




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