Proofreading Tips for a Procrastinator
If you are like me, you like to manage your online reputation pretty carefully. (Raise your hand if you revise your Facebook status 14 times before posting!) Even though your 1248 friends (with a capital F) may not read your latest article, now is the time to let that attentiveness spill over into the other writing that you do.
Last week, Amber talked about how easy it is to make mistakes that spell check doesn’t recognize. But sometimes proofreading is like speech therapy – easier said than done. Since you know what you were trying to say, your mind may automatically ignore jumps in logic, words that have been omitted, extra words, and so on. It is similar to the way you can see text that is a toatl mses and sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm.
One of the advantages of writing for BKA Content is that we work hard to provide writers with some pretty specific guidelines to follow. This helps reduce revisions and ensure that great content is created right out of the gate. No matter who you are writing for, it is important to take time to double check your adherence to content guidelines. When you do that, you are already halfway to having a great article. Here are a few of the most important things to look for before submitting your content.
- Before you start proofreading, compare your work to the list of client requirements.
- Check your bulleted lists to make sure they are consistent and contain either all complete sentences with punctuation or no complete sentences.
- Use the find and replace feature for the following: the keywords you are inserting (assuming you are writing for SEO), for one space after a paragraph, for Oxford commas (if you were instructed not to use them), or for any word that unnecessarily sticks out in your brain as you proofread (this will help reduce repetition), etc.
- Review each header to see if it connects with the title and each paragraph to see if it connects with its header.
- Pay attention to whether or not the content fulfills the promise of the title.
Even if you know what kind of errors to look for, you might glide through them without a pause. When you proofread your own work, it is a good idea to make your writing look foreign so that you can read it over with a fresh perspective. Instead of quickly skimming your article from top to bottom, try tricking your brain so that it doesn’t automatically fill in the blanks.
- Read it out loud.
- Change the font or the spacing.
- Take a break before you start proofreading.
- Read it backwards, once sentence at a time.
- Switch the order of the paragraphs that you read.
A Second Look
If you are lucky, you will be able to have an editor go through your work before it gets published. A second pair of eyes can help find and correct any errors that you left behind. If not, following these proofreading tips should help you catch most of the things that might otherwise trip up your readers.
Do you have other tips and tricks for proofreading? Please share them in the comments below.