Attention to detail speaks volumes. Like it or not, it’s a reflection on your business, your brand, and your professionalism.
It’s a difficult task however, even for the most seasoned writer, to proofread their own words. It’s a skill that is acquired, and proofreading your own content is especially tricky.
I encounter this challenge regularly and take (gleeful) heart on occasion when I see larger brands, magazines and publications with fantastic content that has the odd proofing error that’s slipped through the net.
Slight spite aside, however, here’s just a few reasons why I think we struggle to proofread our words.
We edit, we don’t proofread.
Trust me, this happens all the time and it’s an easy mistake to make. Especially when there is more than one person working on the content.
However, editing and proofreading are two totally separate processes. Proofreading is a final error check. It’s not a chance to edit and rewrite content. If you start editing the text during the proofing stage, you’ll be sure to add errors.
To proofread well, print off your copy and settle down with a red pen and a ruler. Go through it line by line and check that your spelling, punctuation and grammar is all in order.
We trust technology.
We all use spell checkers I’m sure. Most systems, whether it’s Microsoft Word or a website CMS, have them. But to blindly rely on them spells trouble.
Here’s an example of the sentence above that my Microsoft Word spell checker just missed: But to blindly reply on them spells trouble.
See what I mean?
While technology can be helpful, nothing beats the human eye.
We do it all the time. When proofreading copy we often assume facts such as name spellings, website addresses, and phone numbers are correct. Don’t do this. Check.
We’re far too familiar.
Familiarity with content is probably the biggest reason that I tend to miss errors. This is because when I read through content I’ve written I tend to see what I remember writing, rather than what is there on the page.
So, take a conscious decision each time you reach the proofreading stage to look at your work with fresh eyes. If this means taking a few hours away from your copy, then take a few hours away from your copy! Better yet, see if you can get a second pair of (reliable) eyes to look over it.
We read silently.
As a child it was a huge thing to read in our heads! But seriously, reading your words out loud is a brilliant way to check for errors, and see if it all flows. Every single time I do this, it works. Try it!
We have no style.
By this I mean we often don’t have a style-guide to follow when checking the format of our content, which means anomalies and inconsistencies can creep in. So, decide some simple things, like if you’ll spell out numbers or if the word proofread should be hyphenated, one word or two words, and make a note so you can refer to it when needed.
Do you struggle to proof your own words? What are your tips? Have you spotted any errors in this article? Let me know 😊