Why Proofreading is Important
Last Friday on 8th March it was National Proofreading Day, and we are looking at why it is an essential part of content strategy. Proofreading is reading over a draft before publishing it live, checking for minor spelling, punctuation or grammar errors. Though it is one of the last tasks when it comes to writing content, it is an essential part of the process.
Content can be written and published in a fast-paced and pressured environment, which can lead to mistakes going unnoticed and slipping through. With the time and energy put into content, thinking up creative ways to engage with your audience, you don’t want basic errors or a typo to consistently happen which can ruin your work somewhat.
A small typo can detract from the impression you want to make, and mistakes can show carelessness and undermine your brand and reputation. If someone notices an error in the first few lines, they are also likely to stop reading on, which can affect the performance of your website. Also, when sharing content on social media, your audience has easy access to point out any errors and incur negative feedback.
By proofreading your work to give it a final touch up, it can also ensure the clarity of the message you include in the content. Proofreading will help avoid embarrassment from a simple mistake, negative feedback and the time it takes to correct errors and should be included in everyone’s publishing process.
Proofreading requires a good knowledge and understanding of the English language, spelling and grammar. You also need a methodical, almost pedantic approach when reading through content to make sure you are catching the errors. Proofreading doesn’t mean you should be changing large portions of the text but just looking out for spelling, punctuation or grammar errors. A proofreader should also keep an eye on the formatting, accuracy of page numbers, headings and captions and make sure the content is in line with the tone of voice and style you are aiming for.
Becoming a good proofreader doesn’t happen quickly as your brain will often shift around what you are reading because it knows what it should be saying rather than what it actually says. However, there are common mistakes to look out for such as a missing letter or mistyping such as ‘our’ instead of ‘out’ due to R and T being next to each other on the keyboard. Homonyms being misused such as ‘your’ and ‘you’re’ and ‘there’, ‘their’ and ‘they’re’ can often remain unchecked. Proofreaders should also look out for inconsistencies such as the use of American and British English, capitalisation of proper nouns and pacing of punctuation.
Though reading through your own work is important, to pick up the more obvious mistakes, you should send content to a colleague to look at it as well. Another pair of eyes will catch the smaller mistakes that have slipped through during your writing and proofing process. If you have no one else to proof work, leave it a while before rechecking yourself, reading slowly.
You can also use proofreading tools such as Grammarly or spellcheck. However, online tools do not always determine a mistake in the way a human proofer would, if the word is spelt correctly for example, so getting another person to check over it is essential.
Hopefully, this post will encourage you to include proofreading in your content strategy, or enforce it if you have fallen slack. At Ducard, our dedicated team of content writers proof their own and each other’s work, making sure it is polished before being published live. If you have any further queries on the work we do and how we can help your business with content and social media, get in touch with us today.