A Basic Guide to Proofreading Keep an eye on that content

Good quality content helps your company look more professional. Looking more professional helps your company sell more products. But how do you make sure you can spot those typos?

Content is one of the most important parts of any business's online presence.

Imagine you are a shopper walking down the high street. You stroll past an electronics store, which looks like it might offer a few good deals. Mildly interested, you decide to look in the shop window to see what it has in stock, but notice a number of glaring errors; the product descriptions are littered with spelling mistakes, the price tags are difficult to read and the appliances on display are dusty. You decide not to go in. Who knows how professional the business is; not very, by the looks of it. Can it even be trusted with your money? Would the products have been faulty anyway?

Now imagine your website's homepage is a shop window. If you have poorly-written copy or spelling mistakes on the page, they could well mean the difference between a visitor checking out the services you have to offer and a visitor immediately clicking the 'back' button.

But how do you make sure your content is error-free and maintain your business’s image?

The seven tips below should help you improve your ability to spot typos and even find the process that bit less tedious!

Seven Easy Tips to Improve Your Proofreading

  1. Have money on your mind - When you're proofreading your content, think about the potential damage a couple of typos could have on your business. If you attribute loss of revenue to mistakes, it will give you more motivation to check your work thoroughly.
  2. Read aloud - Read your work aloud (whispering will suffice, if you're in a quiet office!). Imagine you're in front of a camera reading off an autocue and try to read the words as fluently as possible. You'll find errors are more obvious, as you'll inevitably trip over them as you read.
  3. Slow down - Needless to say you should be reading your copy more slowly than you would an article written by someone else if you really want to find those typos.
  4. Take a break - After you've finished writing, step away from the computer/paper and go and focus on something else for 15 minutes or so. Or, deadline permitting, come back to it the next day. When you've been writing for a while your eyes inevitably become desensitised to the content and the words and sentences sometimes seem to merge into one. You'll be surprised at how much better you can critique your work after not looking at it for a short period of time.
  5. Change colour and font - As mentioned above, sometimes you need a fresh perspective from which to look at your work. Changing the colour and font of the copy will help you refocus, treat the information slightly differently than before and consequently help you find errors.
  6. Make a list of misspelled words - If you do pick up on any mistakes, make a list of them afterwards and every time you write something, scour the content for those same words.
  7. Watch for homonyms, homophones and common pitfalls - Homophones (words that sound the same but are spelt differently) regularly cause people problems. Examples include 'their', 'they're' and 'there', and 'your' and 'you're'. Homonyms are words that are spelt the same but have different meanings, such as 'tear' and 'tear'. Other common pitfalls include incorrect use of 'its' and 'it's', typing 'of' instead of 'or' and making businesses plural, rather than singular. E.g. 'I-COM offer a fantastic range of services,' instead of the correct 'I-COM offers a fantastic range of services.' See a list of commonly misspelled words here.

The Proof of the Pudding is in the Eating

Hopefully these tips will help make proofreading easier, more efficient and less boring. Just one final thought: grammar and spelling is always important in online business, as the words on your website represent your company and have the ability to convey a wide range of impressions - positive or negative - to readers.

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