If you’ve followed my #HireACopywriter tagging on Twitter, you know I have Strong Feelings™ about getting content right. The various steps involved — research, concepting, writing, editing — are all important. But your content can be bangin’ and still bite it hard if it is riddled with typos.
Enter the magic of proofreading!
In an ideal world, we’d all have time to put away a piece of content and come back to it 24-48 hours later with fresh eyes. This? This is not an ideal world. Sometimes you need to get that copy goodness out there tout-muy-suite-rapido. So here are a few tips to help you proofread when time is scoffing at Mick Jagger and not on your side.
- Do It Backwards: This trick works because it makes you slow down. Read each individual sentence forward but work your way from the bottom of the document to the top. You’ll catch words you repeat too often, problems with clarity, and even issues with subject-verb agreement.
- Print That Sucker: Look, I love trees. So I don’t do this just for funzies. But shifting from screen to page makes the doc look different, and your brain is less likely to gloss over stuff out of familiarity.
- Change That Font: Similar to the above, this makes your brain say, “Hunh. Is this new? It looks new.” (I’ve found this especially useful for gerunds but I’m not sure why. It’s a mystery. Like Stonehenge.)
- Read Out Loud: Wander away from your desk if this is likely to irritate the folks around you, but I highly recommend it. Great for catching awkward sentences or paragraphs that are unclear.
- Final Pass for Names: People. Products. Businesses. Open another tab and double check those proper nouns, hoss. Folks will forgive a lot, but if you spell my name Stefani Strudel, I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger.
If you have time, getting a writerly buddy to look over your work can replace any or all of the tips above. But if your buddy is as busy as you are, these approaches could keep people from thinking you tipe lik thsi.
Now go get ’em, tiger.