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Friday, November 11, 2011

15 Tips Effective Website Proofreading for Web Content

In newly written work, mistakes often lurk that can alter the meaning of a phrase, sentence or paragraph. Therefore website proofreading should be a conscientious habit for all web content writers.

That said, proofreading is far from being a simple matter. The brain has a tendency to fool us at times into seeing what we intended to write, rather than what we really wrote.

So, here are fifteen proofreading tips to help you when writing your web content:

1. Set your completed work aside.

Once you have completed your work, set it aside for at least a few hours, a day if you can before returning to proofread it. This will allow you to look more objectively into what you have really written. Taking time out from your work will also allow you to be more alert when checking for mistakes.

2. Check for different types of grammatical errors each time you proofread.

First, determine whether your sentence structure hangs together correctly. Then consider whether your word choice is correct for each passage of your work. Then check the spelling of each word. Finally, check your punctuation.

3. Check facts and data for accuracy.

Because you are going to present your written work to the world, your credibility as a writer and topic expert is at stake. Therefore your task in website proofreading goes further than just correcting sentence structure, word choice, spelling and punctuation. Accurate information is vital too.

For example: Where research is involved, are your facts and figures up to date? You don't want to be quoting facts that are perhaps two or three years or more out of date. Check numbers carefully. For instance did you mean to write 100,000 or 10,000? You have written 0.01 but should it have been 0.1. Numerical errors can impact on your message significantly.

4. Print your work, then proofread it.

Because we may read in different ways on the computer screen versus on paper, website proofreading using both media can often identify errors that proofreading in just one will not.

5. Read your work out loud.

This time we use two senses instead of just one. This will make you notice mistakes that you may have missed when just reading. Because we are so used to reading with our eyes, hearing something at the same time will often assist us in detecting errors.

6. Take care when using the spellchecker for website proofreading.

I touched on spelling in tip 2. Spell checkers are really useful, however it is important not to fall into the trap of relying on your spell checker. It's very helpful when fishing out repeated words and mistyped words. However, not for example when you should have written the word their but instead used the word there or no instead of know. Your hard copy dictionary is the best spell checker bar none.

7. Use the grammar checking feature in your word processor.

Your grammar checker can be very useful for detecting misplaced punctuation marks and incorrect grammar. Here again do not totally rely on it, as it may miss some of the more subtle nuances of the English language found in your grammar book.

8. Consider your language.

So you are writing in English but is it for example British English or American English. Do one or the other; never mix the two! In British English we write cheque, centre, colour, programme and biscuit. In American English we write check, center, color, program and cookie.

9. Use a thesaurus to increase word variety.

If you notice that you keep repeating words, a thesaurus can be a really useful aid in finding synonyms (and antonyms) to give you more variety in your word choices. You will also expand your vocabulary in the process.

10. Starting from the end read backwards.

This will help you to spot misspelled words by helping you to look at the words in isolation instead of whole sentences.

11. List down mistakes you frequently make, and refer to them often.

Little by little, this will help you improve not only your proofreading skills, but also your writing skills. Repetition will make you learn.

12. Get someone else to proofread your work.

Maybe you are brimming with confidence in your website proofreading skills. However, by using someone who is completely detached to run their eye over your work, they may identify things you have missed.

13. Ensure the logical order of your sentences and paragraphs.

Does a point in one sentence follow another or does the story jump back and forth? An illogical order will stand out like a sore thumb to your readers.

14. Proofread more than once.

It's amazing how much you can miss on the first or even second proofread. Just like you should leave time between writing and proofreading(tip 1), you should also leave time between each proofread.

15. Be a frequent reader.

Make sure you are a regular reader of other people's work. However, be careful what you read. Just because an article or report is published online, it doesn't mean that it is accurate with regards to grammar, spelling, sentence structure and other factors I have discussed here. Whereas a physical book published by a respected publishing house, whilst not guaranteed to be completely error free, will in the main be accurate.

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