proofreading

How to proofread like a professional

Sloppy writing can undermine your brand’s reputation, even if your product or service offering is high quality. That’s why proofreading is an essential part of the writing process. Whether it’s a blog article, social media post, or subject line for an email – you should always proofread your copy before you put it in front of your target audience. Chances are, there will be typos, grammatical errors and misspellings in your first draft; and while these errors may not seem very significant, they can damage your brand’s credibility.

So how can you develop that high-level attention to detail that proofreading demands? The truth is, it’s practice. Though practice might seem like an unsatisfactory answer, just like anything, the more you proofread, the better you’ll get at it. Having said that, there are some things you can do to fool-proof your copy. If you want to know how to proofread like a professional, then check out our top 5 tips below!

1. Take a break between writing and editing

We mentioned this in our blog article 5 copywriting tips to beat the blank page, but it’s worth stating again: leave a break between writing and editing. Often when we try to proofread or edit something straight after it’s written, we don’t read what’s on the page, we read what’s in our mind’s eye – what we meant to say. Take a break after you’ve written something and return to it later. The break will allow your brain to refresh, so that when you do begin proofreading, it’s as though you’re reading it with fresh eyes.

2. Take your time

Proofreading isn’t about how quickly you can find errors, it’s about being thorough (though you’ll get faster at it over time). Slow down and focus on the words, letters, grammar and structure of what you’re reading. When you allow yourself the time to be thorough, not only will you stop little mistakes from slipping by you, your copy will also flow a lot better.

Reading for long periods of time can be very tiring on your eyes, so allow yourself breaks too. Try reading one chapter at a time, or even just a page or two. If you do plan to read for a prolonged period of time, be sure to find yourself a spot where you can sit comfortably, without straining your neck or back. If you’re comfortable, it’ll be easier to focus on the task at hand.

3. Read your copy out loud

Reading aloud is a highly effective proofreading strategy used by writers everywhere. Reading out loud forces your eyes, which normally dart across words very quickly, to slow down and keep pace with your voice. The slower you read, the more likely you are to find errors in your copy. Not only that, when you read out loud, you’ll hear the errors your eyes alone may not pick up.1

4. Get someone else to proofread too

It’s easy to overlook mistakes, especially when you’re proofreading or editing your own copy. If you can, ask someone else to proofread your writing. Two sets of eyes are better than one. By getting someone trusted to help you proofread, you’ll increase your chances of catching any mistakes.

5. Read it all again

Last but not least, re-read everything. Each round of proofreading increases your chances of finding errors, and ending up with a spotless and professional piece of copy. If any amends have been made to your copy, re-read those parts too; this will ensure those changes are error-free and fit within the wider piece, both in terms of structure and flow.

Even experienced copywriters don’t nail their copy on the first draft; that’s why proofreading is part of the copywriting process. The next time you’re writing something for your brand, make sure you proofread it, employing some of our handy tips above. Not only will you feel more confident with the messaging you put before your audiences, your brand will benefit too.

Need a hand with your brand’s copywriting or messaging? Get in touch! Whatever your brand has to say, at Social Weaver, we can help you tell your story.

Sources

  1. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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