You’ve spent hours crafting the perfect piece of copy. Now it’s ready to go and you can’t wait to see it published. But stop! Before you hit the ‘go’ button, have you proofread your copy?
Sure, it might not be the most exciting job but fail to proofread at your peril. After all, do you really want to experience that heart-stopping moment when your document comes back from the printers and you spot an error?
Even if your copy is to be published online, proofreading is still important. Yes, you can make changes later more easily than with print copy but do you really want your customers or competitors spotting errors before you do?
When you’re up against a deadline, it can be tempting to whiz through the proofreading stage. But it’s when you’re in a hurry that mistakes are most likely to happen. So no matter how tight your timescales, and no matter how keen you are to finish your piece, take the time to proofread. You’ll be glad you did.
Here are my top freelance copywriter’s proofreading tips.
1. Print it out
It takes around 30 per cent longer to read words on screen than on paper. This makes it harder to focus on each word and increases the temptation to skim read. So print out your document before proofreading. You’ll find it easier to read and will pick up errors more readily.
2. Use spellcheck with caution
Spellchecker is a useful tool but don’t rely on it. It will pick up incorrect spellings but won’t always spot if you’ve used an incorrect word or used a word in the wrong context.
Remember to set your spellchecker to the correct language (e.g. UK English or US English).
3. Read it aloud
Reading your copy out loud is the best way to check your writing makes sense. If you find you falter over a particular phrase, then that’s probably the bit that needs rewriting.
4. Get help
A fresh pair of eyes is invaluable when it comes to proofreading. When you’ve spent time writing a piece, it can be hard to review it objectively. To find how the piece sounds to a first-time reader, ask someone else to take a look. They will often notice errors that you’ve missed.
5. Avoid distractions
When proofreading, it’s important to give the task your full attention. Proofread in a quiet space and read slowly. If you’re proofreading for a colleague, don’t let them stand over your shoulder as this is likely to make you rush through the document.
6. Leave it overnight
When you’re immersed in your copy, it’s hard to review it objectively. Your brain knows (or at least, thinks it knows) what you’ve written so won’t always pick up mistakes. Leave your work overnight, or at least for a few hours and come back to it afresh.
Do you have your own tips for proofreading? Leave your suggestions in the comments field below.