Proofreading is incredibly important, as we all know, because there is nothing as cringeworthy as looking back at something in print and seeing glaringly obvious mistakes. In fact, it’s downright embarrassing – particularly when the mistake was yours!
We can laugh at these examples, sure, but only because someone else made them. It’s not funny at all when it happens to you. It can make members of staff look bad and, more importantly, it can reflect very poorly on your business.
But with stellar proofreading skills you can go a long way to avoiding all of that. Here are ten quick proofreading tips that have always served me well:
- It may sound weird but read your article backwards. Instead of skimming through what you’ve written, which you’re already very familiar with, go back. That way, you check each word, without the distraction of what follows next.
- Go and take a break. Put your feet up for a while and come back to your copy. Brilliant. Taking time away from your content will make errors and issues much clearer and easier to spot.
- Get a colleague to read it through, second opinions are worth their weight in gold.
- Double check those common errors, ones like “your” and “you’re”. Yes, those old beauties often catch us out, but they are VERY important to get right. For example, if you state “we can help you’re business” on a flyer… well, you might as well write “please don’t give me any work!”
- Just like journalists do, think about getting your facts right. They are crucial. So double and triple check any business facts, figures and especially names. Getting someone’s name wrong is, in football commentator parlance, a schoolboy error – especially when it’s your CEO.
- Read your text aloud – you may feel like a child at school, but it definitely works. It’s brilliant for checking how your copy flows too.
Use a spellchecker. May seem the cheaters way out but sometimes the machines do find things that we miss. Especially often hard to see things like single quotes (‘).
- Be old fashioned and print a hard copy. Even though we are encouraged against too much printing, to help the environment, nothing beats getting that red pen out and finding errors.
- Use a thesaurus to prevent yourself from repeating the same word too much. An overused word can get mighty annoying for readers and suggests you probably don’t have a good enough command of the English language to be writing this copy in the first place. The result? You appear amateurish, and you don’t want that!
- Make a list of those common words (like your/you’re, there/their, its/it’s) and look out for them in your copy. They are the ones that are the most common for making people and businesses look a little bit silly. So just check them over!
- Here’s a bonus tip – if you’re referring to a business in your copy, make sure you stay singular. For instance, “CWDmedia has published a blog on proofreading tips” is correct. CWDmedia is a single entity, not a collective. “CWDmedia have published…” would be incorrect. “Is/has” = good. “Are/have” = bad!
Checking allows you to be confident in your copy so just do the right thing, proofread away!
Got any tips of your own that you don’t see listed above? Why not share them below?