Plan Time for Proofreading and Editing
Prevent sloppy and careless mistakes from making it into your online web content by designating dedicated time for proofreading and editing within your content planning. If you’re stretched for time, the content won’t spend as much time under the editor’s lens and more mistakes will sneak through. If grammar and spelling errors make it in to the final product they can actually hurt your credibility and authority as a content creator. Mistakes undo a lot of the good that comes from having a content plan in place.
If you’ve ever made a typographical error on social media or on a forum, you may have run into a situation where armchair copyeditors pick apart your spelling and grammar shortcomings while completely ignoring the content. Web content isn’t all that different as it’s pretty common for visitors to resort to ridiculous amounts of hyperbole to insult the content creator’s intelligence in the comments section over even the most innocent of errors. Some audience members seem more upset by a simple “i” and “e” letter reversal in words than glaring factual errors; however, those extremely vocal guests aren’t the majority. The guest you are concerned about are the ones that are reading your content, notice the errors, and get the impression you don’t care enough about the content to take the time to proofread it. It’s the show of effort that ultimately changes your content from appealing to unappealing and hurts your reputation.
The copyediting time problem is worse when the writer is also the one doing the editing. When a person has just written content it is fresh in their mind and when they read over it they will subconsciously correct many mistakes within the text. Fortunately, there is a simple solution for being both writer and editor: just step away from the content for a while. The longer you’re away from the content the better, but this can be a problem if it causes work to go far beyond deadlines. This is an even bigger problem when it comes to time sensitive material: writers can’t have clients waiting weeks for content about current events while the writer takes time to de-familiarize him or herself from the content. A one-person writing and “copy desk” will crumble under time constraints because the writer may miss oblivious mistakes that they would’ve caught if they weren’t so familiar with the content. A freelance writer website will typically split up writing and editing duties between two people to work around this problem.
If you find yourself having to copyedit your own work under a tight deadline, there are a few techniques you can use to improve your proofreading accuracy. For example, reading the content out loud can make it easier to catch mistakes. Alternatively, make multiple editing passes over the content while looking for different kinds of errors (spelling, punctuation, flow) each time through. Printing your work on paper and using other sheets of paper to block out every line except the one you’re reading can help focus your attention to mistakes as well. Reading the content backwards can also help. Spelling and grammar check tools are also a great asset and recommended, but you can’t always rely on them to save you. Many writers have received vicious, condescending emails over clicking the wrong suggested word from a spell check program (many of those emails suggest using spell check). An error inevitably will make it into the final product, but if you’ve established a reputation as a diligent, caring content creator your authority won’t be damaged as badly.
Dan S loves computers and other technology, he is also interested in writing, the news industry, music appreciation, music theory, string instruments, film, the arts, soccer, and hockey. Often to his family’s dismay, Dan’s also a fan of DIY projects.