You can improve the accuracy and effectiveness of your content by understanding why mistakes creep in and why you don’t spot them. See if any of these sound familiar:
Not reducing familiarity with the content
Familiarity with content is one of the main reasons that people tend to miss errors. This familiarity means that, when you read through content again, you often see what you expect to see (and what you remember writing), rather than what is actually there on the page. Try reformatting your content so that it reads differently.
Trusting a spell check
Spell checkers usually don’t spot words that are spelled correctly but used incorrectly. Here’s an example of some copy that the spell checker in Microsoft Word thinks is absolutely fine:
“I cut my knee earlier and hadn’t brought a 1st aid kid along. To be honest, my memory hasn’t been god over past few years as it used to be. Do you have 1 that I could burrow?”
It should read:
“I cut my knee earlier and haven’t brought a first aid kit along. To be honest, my memory hasn’t been as good over the past few years as it used to be. Do you have one that I could borrow?”
As you can see, It’s always a good idea to give your copy a read, a re-read and, if you have the time, a re-re-read before you publish it.
Assuming certain words are correct
When proofreading copy you should always assume that there are errors in it. Don’t skip across a fact, person, place name, phone number or website link without checking it. Writers and bloggers can also make mistakes when they don’t know how to use words correctly. Here are three examples of words that often trip up content creators.
Not reading the content out loud
There’s often no substitute for reading your work out loud – or silently saying every word to yourself inside your head.
Doing so helps you get a feel for the rhythm and pace of the words – whether the sentences are too long, the punctuation is correct, even whether the words are spelled correctly, duplicated or missing.
You’re also forced to read the text slower because you need to say every word. The average adult can read pages of text at around 250 to 300 words per minute. Compare this to an average talking speed of 150 words per minute. It’s not rocket science – the slower you read, the greater the chance that you’ll spot any lingering mistakes.
Editing rather than proofreading
Finally, make sure that you split the editing and proofreading processes. Proofreading is a final error check, not an opportunity to rewrite the content. If you get bogged down with editing the text when you should be proofing it, you run the risk of adding extra errors as you work.
Then you’re back to square one.