Traditionally, proofreading is a separate task from editing.
And I still treat the two as different activities.
However, the creative benefits of a consistent proofreading process surpass the classic definition of proofreading.
Modern content marketers can take advantage of proofreading to avoid the all-too-common extremes of caring too little or too muchabout your content.
Caring too little about your content is fairly obvious; it created the current content marketing climate.
But caring too much about your content is also a problem.
It occurs when writers:
- Second-guess their abilities
- Obsess over their drafts
- Delay publishing their posts until they’re “perfect”
Proofreading ensures you’ve thoroughly reviewed your work, so you feel good about releasing it to the world.
Here are 10 proofreading tips that will help you publish with confidence.
1. Proofread backwards
Whenever I mention that proofreading your text from the end of your content to the beginning is my favorite proofreading method, Soniaalways quips:
“How about a tip that doesn’t take forever?”
At which point, I like to explain why this technique is actually a time-saver. 🙂
We don’t always have a day to let our writing sit before we edit and proof it. That’s great advice in theory, but not realistic in a fast-paced content publishing environment.
Proofreading backwards helps you see your writing with fresh eyes, without first putting it aside for 24 hours.
In addition to spotting actual errors, you’ll also likely find:
- Words you overuse
- Sentences you can clarify
- Paragraphs you can simplify
Give it a try the next time you need to polish a fresh draft before you publish.
2. Stop at every punctuation mark
Proofreading is all about paying attention to little details that help your audience effortlessly understand your message.
Pause at every comma, period, apostrophe, quotation mark, etc. to make sure you’ve used them correctly.
This tip is especially helpful to find “it’s/it” and “they’re/their/there” mistakes.
3. Scan the first word of each paragraph
Varying your word choice elevates your content to a more sophisticated level.
If a number of your paragraphs begin with the same word, your writing won’t be as dynamic as it could be.
Use this opportunity to push your creativity.
4. Verify spellings of people’s names
Google is a proofreader’s best friend.
Keep a Google search tab open when you proofread and look up the proper spelling of every name in your text.
My name is spelled “Stefanie,” not “Stephanie.”
I’m sure you also appreciate when your name is spelled correctly.
5. Verify spellings of company names
When the name of a proper noun is spelled correctly, your audience takes it for granted.
However, when a knowledgable reader spots a spelling or letter-case error, it makes an article look sloppy.
It could be “copy blogger” or “CopyBlogger,” instead of the correct spelling: “Copyblogger.”
It could be “Bang & Olufson,” instead of “Bang & Olufsen.”
Or it could be “McSweeneys,” instead of “McSweeney’s.”
An incorrect spelling of a name isn’t a typo; it’s a mistake.
Performing a final spell-check is an important part of proofreading, so I’ve dedicated several of these tips to items professionals verify … in every piece of content.