Whether you’re composing a blog post, newsletter, or copy for your business’s website, making sure your writing is free from errors is essential. Even small spelling or grammar mistakes can make you sound unprofessional and leave a bad first impression on potential customers. That’s where proofreading comes in. While there’s no magic formula for perfect proofreading every time, our handy guide will help improve your proofing skills, saving you time and headaches later. Check out these quick tips to make proofreading less painful.
Read everything you can
Stephen King once wrote, “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.” If you want to improve your writing and proofreading skills, it’s important to be a regular consumer of good content. Whether you enjoy books, magazines, newspapers, or blogs, reading is a great way to expand your vocabulary and refine your grammar skills, which will help with your proofreading later on.
Less is more
When it comes to writing, especially for online content, less is often more. Most people read articles and blog posts on their smartphones, opting for shorter, easy-to-read content. When proofreading, try to eliminate unnecessary phrases and words that clutter your copy and bore your readers. Avoid overloading on adjectives, passive verbs, and idiomatic expressions to make your writing powerful and easy to understand.
Take a coffee break
Especially after working on lengthy copy, it’s important to let your work breathe. This means stepping away from the laptop for at least 15 minutes to refresh your mind. When you’re ready, take a second look at your work. Better yet, print it out so you can easily make changes. You may spot small mistakes or areas for improvement that you missed before.
Read it out loud
Our brains like to generalize familiar material, which is why you may skim over typos or mistakes in your own writing. If you want to get better at catching your own errors, it’s a good idea to make your work as unfamiliar as possible. Try reading your material out loud, word for word. It’s a great way to make sure your writing is grammatically correct and easy to understand.
Ask for a second pair of eyes
When it comes to proofreading, two brains are often better than one. You should never be ashamed to ask a colleague to look at your writing, even if it’s just an email. They will likely see errors you overlooked and offer helpful suggestions.
Don’t shy away from grammar resources
There are plenty of excellent grammar resources at every writer’s fingertips. Whether you opt for a hardcopy of William Strunk Jr.’s classic The Elements of Style or a downloadable grammar/spelling software like Grammarly, don’t be afraid to use outside resources to assist your daily writing.
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