A lack of time is a very easy excuse for sloppy written work and poor attention to detail. Particularly when we are publishing online whether via blogs, online discussion groups or social media such as LinkedIn or Twitter, we need to be quick but we also need to be accurate as our writing is hopefully being read by hundreds or even thousands of visitors – some of who could be prospective customers.
1. The first step is simple – if you know your writing is prone to errors then you need to spend more time proofreading and make sure that you are completely focused while you do your proofreading
2. Then, if you can, try and take some time out between reading and proofreading, even if it’s only ten minutes or so to make a phone call or have a cup of coffee
3. Don’t rely on the spell-checker. It will pick up some but not necessarily all of your mistakes. It definitely will not spot any mistakes with homophones, i.e. words that are pronounced the same but spelt differently. It is all too easy to type their instead of there or your instead of you’re
4. If you have written anything more than a short paragraph, print out your text. It is much easier to spot errors on the page than on the screen and far less tiring on your eyes as well
5. Read what you have written aloud. You will hear any obvious mistakes such as repeated or missing words but any clumsy expressions or overly long sentences will also stand out more
6. If you have a reliable colleague, friend or family member who is good at proofreading then make the most of them. When we are checking our own work it can be difficult to see the wood for the trees. It is amazing how a fresh pair of eyes can spot things that have passed you by
7. Finally, make sure you proofread your document several times and each time check for a different issue. For example, the first time you check, make sure your spelling is correct, then check for grammar and then for repetition
Investing time and effort in improving your editing and proofreading skills is time well spent and the repercussions of not proofreading can be both costly and embarrassing.