While a misplaced full-stop and a badly worded sentence might not look like a big deal to the untrained eye, let me assure you that poor spelling and grammar is walking the punctuation plank as far as the quality of your content is concerned, with no way back!
Badly written content that's littered with spelling and punctuation errors can turn a powerful prose into nothing more than a scrappy piece of content that's hard to read and damaging to your brand.
There are no two ways about it, if you're publishing content on any platform, you must have a robust proofreading system in place to make sure those small but oh-so-pivotal errors are corrected before you hit publish.
Regardless of whether you're a literary genius or not, if you've written an article, there are some errors that you simply won't pick up no matter how many final read-throughs you do.
If you're publishing content and you don't have a regular proof-reader you can rely on, here are seven proofreading habits to get into that will increase your productivity and make your content easy to ready so it ends up in the minds of your consumer, instead of in their trash can!
1) Make a list of grammar rules you're not clear about.
It doesn't matter how well you write, grammar can be complex and it's not always easy to get it right. Make a list of the things that commonly trip you up so you know to pay extra attention to detail to them. If you get ‘that' and ‘which' confused, write the rules down and keep them close by so you know to pay particular attention every time you use them. The more attention you pay to those areas, the more the rules will become ingrained and they won't cause such a problem in your writing.
2) Always take a break before you publish.
My golden rule is to never publish straight after writing. Go and get a cup of tea, go for a walk, and if possible, wait until the next day to do your final proofread. When you write, your brain picks up how a sentence should read so it automatically assumes it's correct, even if you've missed letters and punctuation marks. The longer you can leave an article, the fresher your brain will be so always leave as much space as you can between writing and proofreading.
3) Point at the words with your finger.
This might appear like a first-grade method of proofreading but it's very effective! By pointing to the words with your finger you're paying attention to every single word on the page and it stops your brain from skimming over things and missing glaring errors.
4) Read backwards.
This might not make much sense if you're still trying to work out your sentence structure but if you're looking for incorrect spelling of words and punctuation errors, reading your article backwards will remove the meaning from the words and allow you to concentrate wholly on how they're spelt.
5) Change the font.
When you get used to reading in a familiar font it's easier to skim over the writing and miss errors. Change the colour, size, or typeface to make your work unfamiliar to your brain so it pays close attention to the detail. Errors that you've missed for the last five read-throughs will stick out like a sore thumb in a different font!
6) Read your article out loud.
Read your work out loud to easily spot any spelling or punctuation errors. Pretend you're reading to an audience and pause at every comma and full stop to make sure they're exactly where you want them to be.
7) Have someone read your work aloud to you.
If you've got an obliging partner or a child who loves to read, have them read your work aloud to you. You'll hear any sentences that cause confusion as they stumble over them which is a strong indicator that they're not structured correctly and might need re-wording.
It's crucial that all your work is proofread before publishing because once it's out there it's incredibly difficult, if not impossible, to get it back. Improve the quality of your content and get into these proofreading habits, starting today!
Did we miss any tips? Let us know in the comments below!