Spelling errors and other mistakes can diminish your credibility and turn off potential customers, leading to costly customer service problems. Proofread everything you publish to ensure professional, organized content. This checklist covers strategies, tools, and tips for improving your proofreading accuracy and speed.
Double-check your spell checker
Spell checking utilities have been a standard word processing feature for years, and many users find them helpful. Still, avoid the tendency to rely too much on automated spell checking, especially when producing important business materials for the public. Three particular problems often foul up with spell checking software:
Check grammar and usage
Grammar checking utilities, like the one in Word, are much less reliable than spell checkers, so be sure to proofread for grammatical errors, incorrect word choice, and other writing gaffes. Here are several online references for English grammar and language use:
Create and use a style guide
Some language problems don't have a single correct solution. How will you decide between e-commerce and ecommerce, or e-mail and email? These are easy decisions to make on the fly, but remembering your previous decisions can be more difficult. Your style guide doesn't need to be epic-length; often just two or three pages covering common language issues will help you maintain a professional writing style throughout your site. Here are a few links to more extensive style and editing manuals to build from:
Review with your audience in mind
Think about your target audience; who would you like to reach with your content? Who else might be interested? Make sure your content meets two requirements:
Use four strategies to proofread your content
Sometimes one proofreading isn't enough. Here are four ways used by educators and editors to ferret out holes and flaws: You'll be surprised at how different reading situations highlight different problems.
Be an active editor
Don't scan or browse your work, get involved. Touch every word with the pen. Make a lot of comments, marks, and drawings, if necessary. Editing is an exercise in focus, so do what it takes to keep your focus on your content. You can find the most commonly used proofreading marks here:
Have two other people check everything again
It's almost inevitable that you'll become too focused on the project and too attached to the content to see your work the way your audience will. Recruit other proofreaders to bring fresh and different perspectives to the task. Remember two things:
If you have time, put the project aside for a week
If you're not under a tight deadline, try putting the content away for a week. When you pick it up again, you'll have a more objective perspective and your ability to spot problems and mistakes will improve.
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