Writing, especially for the web, is an elaborate and demanding task. It looks simple, but it takes a lot of effort and a lot more skill to actually be able to come out with a piece of content that is not only engaging but also drives the growth of the business.
While content writing involves a number of steps such as research, drafting, editing, etc, one of the most important steps amount to them all is proofreading. You can write the best content in the world. However, if you do not proofread it properly, it can bring the entire impact of your piece down.
Here, we are going to talk in detail about proofreading, and also share some tips and tricks on how to go about it. So let’s dive straight into it!
What is Proofreading?
Proofreading is essentially the last step of the content writing process which follows when you have drafted and edited the piece. It involved giving a final, yet thorough reading to the write-up, with a detailed lookout for errors and omissions of all kinds – grammatical errors, misspelled words (spelling errors), sentence structure, and more.
In addition, the proofreading process also involves checking for the accuracy of the facts and figures stated in the write-up, and ensuring that they drive the right meaning.
However, there’s a thin line here. What proofreading essentially does not mean is editing the content, or improving its quality by adding or replacing text. One has to resist that temptation and find the right balance during the proofreading phase!
Right Way to Proofread – Tips to Follow
Now that we know how important Proofreading is, the million-dollar question is – what is the right way to go about it? Well, here we tell you some really cool tips and things to keep in mind while proofreading the content.
We bet, no one told you about these!
Tip #1 Spot the usual suspects!
There are certain kinds of errors that you make intuitively, and repeatedly. You know that it is an error, but you are just programmed to make those errors. In other words, certain kinds of mistakes become a part of our approach, or we habitualise them. For example, I keep misspelling ‘you’ and ‘yio’, simply because I have become accustomed to hitting the wrong key on the keypad while writing the word.
Therefore, it is always recommended to make a list of such errors that you make repeatedly and simply search for them once you finish writing a piece. Believe us; this is going to save you a lot of time, and work!
Tip #2 Go Step by Step
It’s always good to look for only one kind of error while reading. For example, in your first reading, you focus only on spelling errors and can look for grammar and sense errors in subsequent rounds of reading. This incremental approach will ensure that no error is left in the write-up by the end of it.
Further, this approach will prevent your mind from getting puzzled, and hence proofreading will come out to be a far more smooth process than otherwise.
Tip #3 Try Reading Out Aloud
One of the good ways to spot errors in your text that you would otherwise miss is to read out the text aloud. Many times, simply reading the text in your mind leads to oversight, and you are not able to spot it. When you read out a text aloud, the sound of it strikes your mind, and if there is something that needs correction, you are able to comprehend it immediately.
Tip #4 Try Reading it Backward
Another cool trick to spot errors in your content is to start reading it from the very end. When you read your content conventionally from the starting multiple times, it settles down in your kind and starts coming naturally to you. In such a situation, you won’t be able to spot certain errors, no matter how hard they try.
However, once you read it backward, your mind is challenged, and that’s where it spots the error! Therefore, it is recommended to at least give one reading to your text, reading backward.
Tip #5 Create your proofreading checklist
One of the best things that you can do to make your proofreading life easier is by creating a checklist of the things that you must look for, before you can say that the text has been properly proofread and is error-free.
Your checklist can include looking out for – dates, page numbers, titles, bullet numbering, keywords, certain spellings, etc. Every time you do a proofreading activity, do not forget to check all the entries in this checklist.
Tools to Use
There are quite a few good tools that you can use to assist you in the proofreading process. We can name a few for you:
- ProWriting Aid
- Hemingway App
- Chrome Extensions
Some Frequently Asked Questions
Q1. Should the author himself/herself do the proofreading?
Yes. It is recommended that the author should proofread the content at least once before putting it forward. Sometimes getting a second person to proofread can help identify hidden mistakes, but that is no replacement for the first round of proofreading by the author.
Q2. How long does proofreading take?
On average, proofreading a piece takes about 1/5th of the time you took in writing it. For example, if you took about 100 minutes to write a piece, it can take you up to 20 minutes to proofread it to a satisfactory level.
Q3. Are proofreading softwares reliable?
Proofreading softwares such as Grammarly and Hemingway should be treated as aids to the proofreading process, and not as automated systems. These apps and extensions can give you recommendations on the right thing to do, but it is you who has to take the call on what is the best for your content!
Proofreading is an important step in ensuring the quality of the content and goes a long way in determining how your audience, as well as the search engine, will respond to your content. Therefore, always give proofreading the importance and the few minutes of your time that it deserves, and keep the above tips in mind!