No matter how great a piece of writing is, bad spelling and grammar will always bring it down a notch. That’s why it’s important to thoroughly proofread all your marketing copy, before putting it out into the world.
Ideally, you’ll have someone to act as a ‘second pair of eyes’. They’ll help you by reading through your work, to spot anything you may have missed. Sometimes though, you might need to check things yourself. When that time comes, these three easy tricks will help to make the process quick and efficient. That process called content proofing.
1) Talk to yourself
They say it’s the first sign of madness but for a copywriter, it’s a sign of good proofreading.
The best way to know how your copy reads is to read it out loud. Even if you aren’t intending for the words to be spoken, hearing them gives you a good idea of the flow and rhythm of the piece.
Because reading aloud, requires different brain activity to simply reading in your head, it’s almost like receiving the information for the first time. You may find that sentences jar in new places or that you run out of breath part way through a line. When this happens, go back and edit until it reads smoothly.
2) Divide it up
In order to effectively proof a piece of writing, it’s essential that your brain remains switched on. It may sound obvious but proofing is all about spotting the little mistakes that went unnoticed the first time around, so you’ll need your wits about you.
If the piece you’re reviewing is longer than a page, or if the content is quite dry, you can keep your mind sharp by dividing it into chunks. Read a few paragraphs then take a short break. Make yourself a cup of tea or even just take a moment to look away from the screen. Then go back afresh and take on the next chunk.
3) Ctrl+F your weaknesses (Cmd+F for Mac!)
Let’s be honest here – we all have weaknesses and when it comes to copywriting, you know what yours are.
Do you write ‘to’ when it should be ‘too’? ‘It’s’ instead of ‘its’? Does the choice between ‘there’, ‘they’re’ and ‘their’ make your head spin?
C’mon – you can come clean… we’re all friends here…
Whatever your bad habits are, identify them and then use ‘Ctrl+F’ (‘Cmd+F’ for Mac users) to seek them out. Despite my best efforts, I still find sneaky apostrophes appearing where they’re not wanted, so I make a point of checking them before I sign anything off.
This should be an absolute last step in your proofing process, as re-writing sentences could result in more grammar errors.
I hope these tips help you streamline your process and catch those little grammar blunders in the act!
Hanna Gilbert is a freelance copywriter and presenter. For more tips on copywriting and the freelance lifestyle, visit Hanna’s website Gilbhub or connect with her on Twitter: @hannagilb.