The unsung hero of creative marketing and content creation… proofreading.
We’ve all been there – even the Lionel Messis of the grammar world, effortlessly weaving their way past the constant threat of being tackled by the dreaded misuse of a semicolon. That’s why Account Director Josh has compiled these helpful tips for avoiding your content finding itself in the graveyard of grammatical errors.
Sdrawkcab daer (read backwards)
Okay, we don’t LITERALLY mean to read backwards (although that would be fun). However, a useful tip for picking up mistakes is to read your content from back to front, either paragraph-by-paragraph or sentence-by-sentence.
This technique helps to remove any context from what you’ve written, and allows you to focus on small sections of text. A common reason for missing a spelling mistake is that you’re reading over something you’ve written and in many cases already re-read many times before, so your brain has memorised what you’ve created, and can be tricked into reading the word you were meant to write, rather than the one you did.
Reading backwards also helps to slow you down, as it’s not so easy reading bottom to top, right to left. Take your time, and give it a go!
Practice makes permanent
As the saying goes, ‘practice makes perfect’. Well, not quite. If you’ve been practicing wrong the whole time, practice won’t make perfect, it will make it permanent. That’s why it’s important to say goodbye to any bad habits and create a routine for proofing content, ensuring you have sufficient time to do it properly.
Not everyone works the same way, so be sure that your new proofing routine works for you and is sustainable. This might be that you set aside one hour a day for proofing content, or perhaps you work better by proofing at stages throughout the day.
Checklists are helpful too. If you’d like the Tann Westlake checklist, drop email@example.com an email and he’ll happily share it with you.
Repetition. Repetition. Repetition.
Proofreading something once is never enough. You should proofread something at least three times, and if you spot a mistake you should start again. You should be able to read through your content at least three times without spotting a mistake, before you can be confident it’s good to go.
However, it is also possible to read a piece of content too much. We’ve all read something back and begun to question: “Is that really how you spell ‘Wednesday’?” A good trick to avoid this is to return to the same content later in the day or even the following morning (assuming the content isn’t time-sensitive). If you’re still happy with the content after a good night’s sleep, you’re usually good to go.
Two sets of eyes is better than one
There’s nothing wrong with asking for help, and it’s always beneficial to have more than one person proof (and approve) content, no matter how short or long the written content is. In fact, for longer content you may wish to draft in a third member of the team for good measure.
Not only does this help reduce the risk of mistakes, it also encourages healthy discussions regarding the content. It’s likely the other person may have some useful ideas for improving the content, or they may even suggest alternative ways of saying the same thing.
Don’t be afraid of technology, but be careful of it too
The biggest reason for mistakes in written content is simply human error. Mistakes happen, and we all have those select few words that we’ve always struggled to spell. Mine is ‘hummus’ – I’m convinced it should be ‘hummous’. In fact, you can actually spell it ‘houmous’, apparently, just to confuse us even more.
Don’t be afraid to use technology to help pick up those mistakes you may have missed, even if that involves a simple spell-check. There are helpful tools out there too, like Grammarly, or the good old fashioned Oxford Dictionary (other printed and online dictionaries are available).
Whilst online tools are great at picking up obvious spelling mistakes, what they can’t always pick up on is context – like when a word is misspelt, but still spells another word. For example, you wouldn’t want to suggest to a vegan the ‘Top 10 places to ‘meat’ for Veganuary’. Make sure your last proof is always your own.
Proofreading is integral to the creative process and ensures you maximise the success of your content. It also prevents perfectly good content from going to waste. Whilst Shakespeare may have got away with a few spelling mistakes (or his creative use of the English language, as some call it), in a digital age the audience is less forgiving.
You should ‘definately’ follow these helpful tips, if you don’t want to ‘loose’ social media followers. In fact, if you’d like help with creating and developing amazing content for social media, blog articles, email campaigns and more, don’t hesitate to contact Tann Westlake.