This guest post is by Luke Palder of ProofreadingServices.Us.
It should come as no surprise that writing for a blog is different from writing for other types of media. Blogs are free to read and there are tons of them, so people tend to decide very quickly if they’d like to move on to the next one. Only great content will cause a new visitor to read beyond the first paragraph of one of your posts, but there are many ways to scare a new reader away. Publishing content with glaring errors is one of them.
Git my pointe? (Don’t run away just yet. Instead, find out how easy blog proofreading can be.)
The aim of blog proofreading is to build credibility with new readers as quickly as possible so that they stick around, share your content and maybe even throw you a link or two. Below are 11 actionable proofreading tips for bloggers that are going to help you polish your posts quickly and effectively.
1. Walk away
Bloggers usually write a post and then immediately publish it. Don’t. Wait instead. When you’ve stared for too long at the same draft, any proofreading you undertake will be ineffective. Step away from your keyboard for half an hour or an entire day (gasp!) if you can and then check your work. This way, you’ll spot more errors.
2. Ask a friend for help
No matter how sharp you are at spotting errors, your eyes naturally skip over errors in your own work. Enlisting a friend’s help to read a draft post and point out your mistakes can help you correct them.
3. Use a spell-checker
You might be a flawless speller, but everyone includes a typo here and there, especially when hurriedly typing, which is the modus operandi of many of my blogging brethren. Always run your blog posts through a spell-checker or use a browser that detects spelling errors. This is one of the quickest proofreading tips you can implement, and there’s no reason not to use a tool that’s so widely available.
4. Use a grammar-checker
Like spell-checkers, grammar-checkers are immeasurably useful, but only if you actually use them (for many word processing programs, this means you’ll actually have to click “start”). A grammar-checker will scan your post for issues such as parallel structure errors, comma splices and run-on sentences, all of which are easy to miss when rushing to publish. Grammar-checkers aren’t perfect, but they’ll point out sentences that may need more work.
5. Read your post backward
Scan your blog post in reverse to spot spelling errors that your spell-checker didn’t catch. Going backward lets you concentrate on individual words, so you can focus your attention on finding elusive spelling errors without getting distracted by other writing issues.
6. Proofread multiple times
Reading your post through to catch major errors is a good first step, but once is not enough. It’s best to go through your draft several times and to look for a specific type of error each time. For example, you might look for run-on sentences in one scan, and check for proper spelling after that.
7. Ensure you’ve been inclusive
If you write for geneticists, then using terms like “genotype” and “phenotype” without defining them is okay; however, if you’re writing a post for the general public, cut down on jargon and find inclusive ways to communicate. Write out abbreviations and acronyms unless they’re common like “IRS” or “CBS.” While you don’t have to strip your writing of personality, use specialized terminology sparingly. Your blog about anime and manga might describe a new character as “kawaii,” but avoid writing half of your blog in romaji Japanese so your less experienced readers can follow along easily.
8. Print it out
What your eyes miss on the screen, they’ll see on a printed page. Print your draft out and read it on paper to find elusive errors.
9. Choose a different font
Just as printing your post will force you to examine it differently, so will changing fonts during the proofreading process. Select a new font that’s easy to read, and see how your post looks in Times New Roman or Courier instead of your usual Arial.
10. Triple-check proper nouns
If you want your blog to have a chance of becoming lucrative linkbait, you must spell the names of people, products and companies correctly. Correct spellings attract search engines’ notice and will make you trustworthy in your readers’ eyes. Spell-checkers do a great job in general, but they’re terrible with proper nouns, so pay extra attention to how names are spelled.
Pro tip: Enclose proper nouns you’re unsure about within quotation marks and Google them. Google sometimes suggests an alternative spelling based on what is searched most often. Sometimes you might even know that the spelling you have is correct, but that it’s not the most popular version (e.g. how many ways are there to spell Muammar Gaddafi?). When you’re trying to spell a proper noun that doesn’t have a universally agreed upon correct spelling in your language, this quotation mark technique is a great way to compare the number of Google results that different correct spellings of a proper noun yield. It’s that easy.
11. Read it out loud
Saving one of the most effective blog proofreading tips for last, read your post out loud, especially if you’re in a rush. Blog posts typically take on a conversational tone, and how better to proofread the quality of that tone than to read your draft out loud? Reading out loud also helps you find subject-verb agreement errors and other awkward phrases with great ease.
These 11 proofreading tips will help you build instant credibility with your readers. What didn’t I include? I think we can make a much longer list.
Luke Palder is the founder of ProofreadingServices.Us, a San Francisco-based proofreading service. ProofreadingServices.Us provides online proofreading, manuscript proofreading and other proofreading services.