Essential Proofreading Tips for Your Content Marketing

Some content marketing businesses publish as many as 250 pieces of content each month.  At that level they say the observe the challenges writers struggle with – everything from writer’s block to poor sentence structure.

But one of the biggest challenges comes after a writer completes a piece.

If content marketing is a significant part of your marketing strategy, the last thing you want is for all of your hard work to be undermined by spelling errors or glaring typos.  A poorly proofread article is like a home that is dusty and unkempt.  No matter how beautiful everything is underneath, the whole package doesn’t make as good of an impression as it could.

Like any other task, proofreading is a skill that you can learn and hone.  Many of us, however, either don’t allow enough time to proofread, or we never learned how to proofread.

Luckily, there are tools that make the process easier, less tedious, and much faster.  Here are some essential proofreading tips to give your written content that final polish.


Essential Proofreading Tips:

1. What to Look For When You Proofread

The first of our essential proofreading tips is that not every typo or issue is alike.  Each needs to be attacked in a different way.

At a minimum, check for:

  • Spelling (check not only for incorrectly spelled words, but also check the spelling of proper names and words that sound the same but are spelled differently)
  • Grammar
  • Sentence structure (did you use complete sentences, not just fragments?  What about run-on sentences, i.e., two sentences smashed together?)
  • Numbers (this is especially an issue when using digits, as the difference between 20 and 200 can be significant)
  • Dropped words and missing words


Essential Proofreading Tips:

2. Edit for Web and Mobile

In school you probably learned “composition” style writing.  In composition style you may, for instance, have been told to avoid one-sentence paragraphs.

Writing for the Web and small mobile screens is different.  Short sentences, short paragraphs, and bulleted lists are essential.

A helpful tool to develop a concise online writing style is the Hemingway app.  This free app flags long, complex, or confusing passages for you to change.


Essential Proofreading Tips:

3. Use a Spell Checker – and Go Beyond

Take advantage of technology and use a spell checker.  Microsoft Word has a built-in spell checker, and browsers such as Chrome have numerous spelling plugins or extensions available.

Not every spell checker is created equal.  For example, depending on its sophistication, your spell checker may or may not flag “their” when you meant “there” instead.

A more advanced category of technology is the grammar checker.

In addition to catching spelling errors, grammar checkers are designed to pick up errors in word choice, grammar, and sentence structure, among other things.  Grammarly, the Ginger app, Whitesmoke, Grammark, Language Tool, and CorrectEnglish are just some of the choices.  Some are free and some are paid or offer both versions.


Essential Proofreading Tips:

4. Use Checklists

If you find yourself making the same sorts of errors over and over, a checklist can serve as a great reminder.  For example, let’s say that you often misspell proper names in articles – spell checkers may not help with names.  Or perhaps you proofread the article body, but overlook your titles or the subject lines of your email newsletter.  A checklist can remind you to proofread those elements specifically.

If you use WordPress as a content management system, you can install a checklist plugin that will remind you or your editor to double check for those “gotcha gremlins.”  You can program it so that the post will not publish until the author or editor specifically checks off each item.  Four checklist plugins are reviewed here.  Another plugin not on that list, but my personal favourite, is Pre-Publish Post Checklist.


Essential Proofreading Tips:

5. “Hear” Your Writing Aloud

Finally, the last but definitely not the least important technique on our list of essential proofreading tips. A common piece of advice is to read your written article aloud.  Hearing it helps catch missed words, redundant phrases, and similar issues.

Watch out for two common problems with this step.  First, some people find this step tedious and skip it. Second, your eye tends to see what you intended to write, not what you actually wrote.

That’s where a text-to-speech application can help.  This type of application turns text into the spoken word so you can listen to your writing read back to you.  One such application is NaturalReader.

In the end, taking the time to proofread your work pays off.  You will gain a more polished end product, and your marketing will appear more credible.

There are also Language Service Providers who offer free proofreading services for your website and blog. It may be worth checking some of them out.


The above article was originally published by Anita Campbell on the Small Business Administration blog.

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