As a blogger you are passionate about your chosen subject, you are an expert in it and, naturally, you want to tell people about it. But what if your spelling and grammar are shocking? Or you keep noticing mistakes and inconsistencies after you have posted your blog? This article provides professional proofreading tips that you can implement right now to improve your writing and the popularity of your blog.
Blogging is a wonderful way of communicating your enthusiasm and expertise to the world. But will people read what you have to say? Potentially, yes, but with the vast amount of choice online having mistakes in your blog could turn your readers off – meaning they go elsewhere for their inspiration. What’s more, a poorly written blog can be damaging for your brand and reputation.
So, what to do? Don’t worry, even if spelling and grammar aren’t your strong points, you can learn some basic techniques to enable you to proofread your blog with confidence.
Here’s 10 top tips to get you started:
1. Print before proofreading
My number one recommendation is to print off your writing and proofread it on paper. You read differently on paper to on screen and it is easier to spot mistakes this way.
2. Use a ruler
Putting a ruler (or a sheet of paper) underneath the sentence you are reading helps you to focus and stops your eye from drifting ahead.
3. Read slowly
Reading slowly is easier said than done; it doesn’t feel natural, but it is essential to avoid missing mistakes.
4. Read out loud
Reading out loud is another proofreading technique that feels strange, but it is very effective in helping you to hear the words as the audience hears them. It will also help to slow down your reading.
5. Be alert
Don’t even think about proofreading if you are tired, stressed or in a rush – you have to be alert to spot mistakes, otherwise your brain will assume the correct words are there and ignore the errors.
6. Create a calm environment
I prefer to proofread in silence, in a calm, quiet room away from distractions – this helps to focus the mind on the detail of what you are doing.
If you work in a busy open-plan office, then find a spare meeting room or staff room where you can sit quietly and concentrate. Tell people that you are going to proofread and ask them not to interrupt you; make yourself a cuppa and enjoy the luxury of some quiet time focusing on just one task!
7. Take a break
Never proofread your blog immediately after writing it, instead give yourself a break and then come back to it later. It can be tempting to do it straight away because you are so excited or ‘just want it done’, but your mind needs time to switch off and reset to proofread properly.
Go outside and get some fresh air, exercise, listen to music – do something that uses your brain in a different way and then go back to it. Ideally, sleep on it and read it the next morning.
8. Read it twice, then read it again
Reading your blog multiple times will definitely help you to pick up on any errors. I recommend doing this as least twice:
- Once to check for spelling, grammar and sense
- Once to look for consistency in formatting.
If you have the time and the willpower, then you can make further checks to look for more errors, to make improvements and to ensure you use a variety of different words that give your reader a fascinating experience.
9. Use a spell checker
Your blog or website will probably have some sort of spell checker built into it – pay attention to it and make sure you check the errors it points out. I prefer to write in Microsoft Word using their spell checker and then copy across into my website. Using Word gives you a nice, clear, blank page with no distractions. It also means that I proofread with Word and then again on my website after formatting – as well as on paper.
Apparently, there are lots of online proofreading tools that you can use, both free and paid for. I haven’t used any of these so I don’t feel I can recommend them, but they might be worth a go if you are really struggling.
10. Get someone else to read it for you
Last, but definitely not least, get someone else to proofread your blog for you. If you can afford a professional proofreader, that’s great and is definitely worth it. If not, don’t skip this step – get anyone to read it for you; a colleague, friend or family member.
It is incredibly difficult to proofread your own writing; you know what you want to say and your brain often ‘helpfully’ fills the gaps in for you. Even if the other person isn’t a grammatical genius, they will still be able to spot mistakes and tell you if certain parts don’t make sense.
To get a professional and polished finish for your blog, use my proofreading checklist (below) to help you to remember everything you need to look out for:
- Have you done a spelling and grammar check and followed steps 1-10?
- Does it make sense? Is it jargon-free?
- Is your font the same throughout?
- Are your headings the same size and format? I.e., are they all bold, blue and size 18 Calibri or are some underlined, some italic, some Times New Roman, some pink and some blue? Do you capitalise each word in the title or just the first word?
- Is your text left aligned or justified?
- Is your line spacing the same?
- Do you punctuate your bullet points consistently? I.e., do you put full stops or commas at the end of each individual bullet point or just at the end of the set?
- Is your numbering in sequence?
- Pay special attention to tricky words e.g. ‘form’ vs. ‘from’ – both are spelt correctly but give the sentence a different meaning
- Are you using British (-ise) or American (-ize) spellings? Use the one most appropriate to your market, but ensure you are consistent with it throughout
- Where you use speech marks, quotation marks and brackets, have you opened and closed them?
- Do all of your links work?
Phew … if you have followed the above steps and used the checklist, then you should have a pretty decent piece of writing, with the majority of mistakes spotted and corrected.
This will make a big difference to the satisfaction of your readers and will increase the likelihood that they will return to you and promote you.
© Julie Waite, August 2016.
By the way – need some advice on writing for SEO? Have a look at my article ‘How to write web content for SEO’ for more tips and advice.