This is a guest contribution by Charles Cuninghame, website copywriter and owner of Text-Centric.
I’m sure we can all agree that proofreading is the least fun part of blogging. But while it may be tedious, it’s well worth the effort.
Typos are not only embarrassing, they can also cost you money.
In a widely reported study in 2011, British entrepreneur Charles Duncombe found a single spelling mistake can cut online sales in half! If you don’t have a product, then you could be missing out a blog subscriber or repeat visitor!
Here’s a tried and tested proofreading process that I’ve taught to many novice writers with great success. Once you get the hang of it, you should be able to thoroughly proofread an average length blog post in 5-10 minutes.
What you’ll need:
- A printer
- A red pen
- A highlighter pen
Step 1: Set it aside
Time permitting, set your blog post aside for a while before you proofread it. An hour is good, a day is better. The more time you put between the writing and proofreading, the more refreshed you’ll be and better able to spot any typos.
Step 2: Print it out
Research has shown that proofreading on-screen is not as effective as proofreading a printout. So do yourself a favour and print your post out. But run it through the spell checker first, to fix any obvious spelling mistakes.
Step 3: Mark up your changes
Get ready by minimising distractions. Proofreading requires your undivided attention. So turn off your phone, close your email and switch off the music.
Read through your post marking up typos and rough spots with your red pen as you go. Force yourself to slow down and concentrate. Focus on each word and character as you read.
Make your mark-ups obvious so you don’t overlook them at the corrections stage. Punctuation marks (commas, apostrophes, full-stops/periods, etc.) are particularly easy to miss. So it’s a good idea to circle the mark-up for extra emphasis.
It’s also a good idea to put a cross in the margin next to a line that contains a correction.
Step 4: Read out loud
Once you’re been through your blog post once, read it aloud. Reading aloud helps in two ways. Firstly, your ears will often catch mistakes that your eyes miss. Reading aloud forces a higher level of concentration than silent reading.
And secondly, reading out loud helps you to write conversationally. If your post sounds clunky when you speak it, you need to revise it until it sounds confidently conversational.
Step 5: Double-check details
There are some details that are particularly embarrassing or troublesome to get wrong. So you should double-check the following:
- The spelling of people’s names e.g. is it Janine or Jenean? Stuart or Stewart?
- Ditto brand names e.g. is it Word press, WordPress or Word Press?
- Telephone numbers and email addresses
- Click links to make sure they go where you want them to.
Step 6: Make corrections
Make all your corrections in one go, not as you find them. Be very careful as you make changes. You don’t want to add in errors at this stage. Be especially careful with any sections you’ve rewritten. If you’ve rewritten a significant portion of your post it’s best to print it out and proof it again.
A common mistake is missing corrections you’ve marked up on your printout. So as you make each change mark it off your printout with your highlighter. When you’ve finished making changes, go over your printout to make sure you haven’t missed anything.
Step 7: Final check
As a final check, run the spell checker over your corrected post. Read it on-screen to make sure it looks OK. Break up any paragraphs that are longer than 5 lines. Now you’re good to hit the publish button!