May 8, 2014
The importance of proofreading: 6 tips to transform your digital content
So, you’ve created a great piece of content. Awesome! Now you can publish it, right? Stop right there! Have you taken the time to look over it again? Once? Twice? Maybe some more? Before hitting that button and sending your work off into the ether, make sure you have covered the following six tips to transform your digital content.
1. Give it a break!
Don’t go straight into editing straight after writing. If you are proofreading your own work, a break will do wonders. Go for a jog, have a cup of tea, play with the dog, whatever! A fresh set of eyes will ensure you don’t miss any errors.
2. Slow down
Proofreading should take time. In fact, it may surprise you to know how long it takes if you’re doing it right! You shouldn’t be reading at your normal pace. Instead, you need to thoroughly scan every word, phrase, sentence and paragraph. It is easy to gloss over a misspelled word or grammatical error – in fact, your brain is designed to fix it for you! It has been found that as long as the first and last letters are in the right place, your brain will figure out the rest. But the error will still be there. By taking your time, you will pick up on most errors, which can also reduce the error from recurring in following pieces of content!
3. Read out loud
Find somewhere quiet to read your piece both out loud and silently. If you don’t have time to do both, prioritise reading aloud. Your mouth has to voice each word and this will allow you to pick up errors better than your mind alone sensing errors. This ties in with the last tip – by taking your time and doing it right, you will end up with well written, error-free content.
4. Make a list, check it twice
The more you proofread, the more you will notice errors you commonly make. Write up a list of words you misspell or grammatical mistakes you tend to repeat and keep it handy when proofreading. Even having a dictionary nearby can help. For example, I tend to misspell receive, so I always search for the word to see if I’ve misplaced that “i” and “e” again.
5. A friend in need is a friend indeed
Ask a colleague or friend to give your work the once over. They will probably find some silly errors you missed, even if you’ve looked at it a few times. A fresh set of eyes also comes with no preconceived ideas of how it should sound, so they won’t gloss over errors without realising. You can also use them as a “test” to make sure your post makes sense and your audience will understand what you are trying to convey.
6. Keep your eye on the prize
Every piece of content has an objective. It can be easy to start off with good intentions then get off track and end up with something that doesn’t quite hit the mark. Proofreading is a time to refine and ensure you meet your goals. Have the objective written down somewhere to refer to and drive your content to meet this. Be flexible with your writing.
Whether it’s a blog post, infographic or even just a new page on your site, proofreading is more important than you may think. It can change your content entirely. By refining it, from grammar and spelling to sentence structure and content objectives, you will end up with a piece you are proud of.