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11 Blog Proofreading Tips You Can’t Afford to Ignore

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.

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Comments

  1. Hey Luke, Nice list here. I agree with you that we bloggers have a habit of hitting that “Publish” button a minute too soon. I have got a checklist for this which i print and stick it near my work area. I called it the “Better Blogger Checklist”. You can get it here – http://www.dailymorningcoffee.com/guest-post-for-suesss-pieces/.
    Tell me what you think about it.

  2. Excellent tips! I use most of them.

    You can also create a checklist of your most common mistakes.

  3. Wendy says:

    Reading it out loud is usually where I catch the majority of my mistakes. Thank you for the reminder of the excellent things to do.

    You mentioned a grammar checker. I write my posts directly in WordPress. Do they have a plug-in that you know of that is a grammar checker?

    • Luke Palder says:

      @Wendy: I’m so glad you liked it!

      There’s actually a grammar-checker plugin direct from the makers of WordPress. It’s called After the Deadline (http://afterthedeadline.com/).

      • Luke, thanks so much for the list! I’ve been notorious among my friends to post articles with tonnes of spelling errors. This is definitely a great list to start practicing for me. I also noticed a list from Praveen and will look at that too! Finally, thanks a bunch for the “After the deadline” recommendation. I just installed it.

        • Luke Palder says:

          @Alexander: I’m so glad that the comments have become very collaborative and a great extension of the original post. Praveen’s list is worth checking out and I’ve heard great things about After the Deadline, though I don’t use it myself. Best of luck!

  4. Manuel says:

    Good advice. There 11 methods are very good to implement while you are a young blogger. It is certainly not a good method to do all these steps all the time. No one has the time to do this. Bu,t with the passing of the time people will see what fits them most. I even use an Chrome extension. I only need to highlight a word and it leads me to the Dictionary, Nice and handy.

    Among the method from outlined here I use grammar-checker and my good young eyes. :D I’ve had enough situations when people stopped at the first typo and just ran away.

    A small tip: if you want to misinform a=or play with the readers just insert a typo or two in the post and all will rant about that error and will miss out on the fact that the information in the post is fake. I did such an experiment and it worked flawlessly, even with journalists :))

    • Luke Palder says:

      @Manuel: I agree that methodically going through all of these for each post can be too much work for those who post frequently. I generally find that good proofreaders implement a small set of proofreading techniques that they favor, rather than using every mainstream strategy when reviewing a piece.

  5. Ahmed Sharif says:

    some fantastic tips!!
    most of the tips apply to all kinds of writing, not just blogging… but to put that whole thing into context is another… very well delivered!

  6. Nick Beske says:

    I hate printing things out on paper just to proof but it really does help. I’m always surprised to find something I’ve scanned over several times and missed on screen. When I read it out loud I often end up revising some things to “sound” better, something you definitely cant do in your head. I’ve never tried reading anything backwards but will give it a shot, thanks for the tips!

    • Luke Palder says:

      @Nick: I’m so glad I was able to turn your attention to some new strategies. I agree that printing a document out to proofread it seems odd, but the benefits are hard to pass up.

  7. When proofreading, I like using a text-to-speech feature like available with WordQ, TextAloud or with Microsoft Word 2010. That way I am listening to what is actually there rather than reading what I think is there. I catch so much more that way.

  8. All great tips! Thanks for these. Walking away can be tough, especially when you’re on a deadline. I would say these can go for article writing as well, and probably just about any type of writing that needs to have a professional look.

  9. I’m a grammar junkie, and even I found a few new tips in this post. Read it backwards? Google proper nouns? I’ll have to try that.

    Walking away and printing it out are two of my favorite proofreading tools.

    • Luke Palder says:

      @Anne: I’m so glad that you’re going to try some new strategies from this list. Googling proper nouns is one of my absolute favorites.

  10. These are some great tips. I find the most effective one is to walk away for a little while. Often by the time I finish writing something, my eyes can be a bit tired, and as has already been mentioned, we tend to see what we know should be there rather than what is really there. When I walk away, I find it helpful to really walk away — get up and take a shower or eat a meal or some other activity away from the computer. I come back refreshed and more likely to see mistakes that way.

    • Luke Palder says:

      @Rebecca: I completely agree that walking away is not just about spending some time away from your text. It’s also about getting your mind to relax for a few minutes, so a shower or a meal can be perfect.

  11. Eric Murphy says:

    I agree with the very first point. we can not find errors when we instantly check our content. great tip.

    • Luke Palder says:

      @Eric: Thanks. Waiting a little while before proofreading is certainly one of the most effective proofreading tips on this list.

  12. Luke, Very Nice article. I like points 1,9,10 and really sounds great. Thanks for the posting – Manickam

  13. Brad says:

    Darren,

    Nice comprehensive list here. You definitely saved the best for last. I catch most of my mistakes when reading my posts out loud.

    Brad

    • Luke Palder says:

      @Brad: Thanks. Reading your text out loud is definitely one of the most effective proofreading strategies available.

  14. I find changing the font to be the most effective. Also, I write one day and never publish it without giving it 24 hours. Not only does it help with typos, but many times you can actually make it sound even better. Good tips.

    • Luke Palder says:

      @Marya: Thanks for your kind words! Waiting 24 hours is difficult with blogs sometimes, but it’s certainly worth it.

  15. Kaushik says:

    #1 is the best tip.

    This has happened to me often – I publish a post, return to it a few hours later and discover numerous errors.

    • Luke Palder says:

      @Kaushik: The first tip is also one of my favorites. With instant distribution via RSS, any errors present at publication are online permanently (even if you correct them on your site).

  16. Eddie Gear says:

    Tips from an expert. I’ve been in technical writing for a while. These tips help you produce quality content.

  17. Lead says:

    11. Read it out loud…

    Or get your computer to read it out for you via text to speech (e.g. Voice-over on Macs). That has always highlighted bad grammar and awkwardly worded paragraphs for me.

  18. I treat each post like an email I’m writing to an angry customer, that way I know I will double check and triple check to make sure what I write is correct.

    Also if it’s not a time sensitive post, I will sleep on it, usually the next day I will have a different perspective and sometimes even find more stuff to add to the post. (Sometimes that even happens for comments but I just post those, I don’t sleep on them lol)

    • Luke Palder says:

      @Jamie: Treating each post like an email to an angry customer is great advice. Thank you!

      Regarding sleeping on a post, I completely agree. Very few proofreading strategies are more helpful than taking some time away from a post.

  19. rakesh kumar says:

    These are really nice tips. Most of time we write great article and it become a total mess when people find grammar mistakes or spelling error. These tips can help us a lot.

  20. Brad says:

    Luke…wow, my reading comprehension skills clearly need some work. My apologies for the oversight yesterday…again, great list.

  21. k.roshan says:

    Yes, thats correct. when it comes to quality content, you sure have to take those above point in mind before you publish your post

  22. I love the last tip. Actually that is so true. You should always have the style of writing that can bring people into a conversion mode with ‘you’ in the cyber world.

  23. Another good tip is to write your post in MS Word because it will catch a lot of spelling and grammar errors. Somebody might have already mentioned this, but I’m not sure because I did not read all those comments up there. Hah

    You can also divide your blog post into 3 sections and fully analyze each section before you move on to the next. This way you can attack the problem systematically. I still make a few mistakes, but what can you do?! =]

    Sometimes I don’t mind if someone makes one or two mistakes because I can relate to the person better. Everybody makes mistakes.

    • Luke Palder says:

      @Kent: Writing your post in MS Word or using a grammar-checking WordPress plugin like After the Deadline are both great strategies to avoid errors. Thanks for the suggestions!

  24. Dana Sitar says:

    Great list! Reading the post backward is something I wouldn’t have thought of; but that’s really great advice. I wrote a short list of common errors to be wary of that might be useful: http://danasitar.com/2011/08/16/your-rite-5-common-errors-that-spell-check-wont-correct/
    It’s good to keep in mind common typos and homonyms, as well as words you see commonly misused (e.g. affect and effect). No matter how good you think your grammar is, when you’re writing as often as some bloggers/writers do, it’s easy to start to glaze over these easy mistakes. Set your spell-checker/grammar-checker to automatically flag your own common issues, so you are sure to double-check them.

    • Luke Palder says:

      @Dana: You have a great list! A lot of what you covered are good things to check using the find feature of word processing programs.

      Thanks for the great advice!

  25. Luke, I really like the strategy to use different fonts. I copied and pasted, and printed, my latest post. Gives the feeling of a totally different article. It’s way too easy to get that deer-in-the-headlights look when we’re editing within the structure and appearance of our own blog.

    Thanks so much for the ideas. Excellent!

    • Luke Palder says:

      @Garry: You’re completely right; it’s way too easy to miss errors when everything looks so familiar. Sometimes I’ll choose a really crazy (but still legible) font in order to keep myself on my toes.

  26. Kate Dolan says:

    Great tips! I especially liked the idea of changing the font to get your eye to see the words differently.

  27. Terry Aman says:

    Great entry! I’m with Wendy on the reading aloud. My blog is the basis for my podcast so as soon as I finish it I print it out and read it out loud. I usually catch a few typos that way. :)

  28. Great list. I do the same and I use Windows Live Writer for writing my WordPress posts, use the spell check and then post my draft. Once it’s there, I use “after the deadline” WordPress plug-in and proof it once more. Of course I still find typos but only after I’ve pressed the publish button!

    • Luke Palder says:

      @Sara: I’m so glad you like the post! You have an interesting, bold strategy. Since you proofread, publish and then proofread, are you concerned that errors end up in your RSS feed?

      • Well, that does happen (mistakes in the RSS feed) but when I find mistakes in the AM newspaper, and they have actual paid editors, I figure it’s all good! I also have my e-mail delivery set so that I can publish and the post doesn’t get delivered until later in the day so I can correct my mistakes at that point.

  29. Aidy says:

    Reading a post backwards? Definitely a technique I haven’t tried. The best tip on the list is ‘just walk away.’ Saved a lot of headaches this way. Great tips, thank you.

  30. Steve says:

    Great article Luke

    The one that I found most intriguing was N° 9 (change the font), am going to give that a try on my next piece of work.

    In N°10 where you said “Correct spellings” I would have used “Correct spelling”. Is this a AmEn v BrEn difference or a simple typo ?

    Steve

    • Luke Palder says:

      @Steve: The ninth tip is new to a lot of people and it’s a little odd the first time you try it, but it does wonders for spelling errors.

      Regarding “correct spellings,” I’ve always used both, but they mean slightly different things. “Correct spelling” refers to the concept or practice of spelling correctly. “Correct spellings” refers to the correctly spelled versions of the words themselves (e.g. you have a long list of words, some of which are spelled correctly and some of which are spelled incorrectly). It’s a slight difference and I think either “correct spelling” or “correct spellings” could have been used in #10 without the core message being lost.

      Great comment. Thank you.