As a blogger, you probably know it is very important to proofread and edit your posts before you publish them, especially if you want to be taken seriously as a writer. Poorly proofed articles can affect how many times they’re shared and how many pageviews they get. Most importantly though, when you publish articles that aren’t proofread, there is a chance your reader won’t understand what you are trying to convey. You don’t want to miss out on any a chance your article could go viral simply because your ideas didn’t come across as you had intended. Because of all these reasons and more, proofreading is a vital step in the blogging process and shouldn’t be overlooked.
In case you don’t know the difference between proofreading and editing, I’ll quickly explain it. Proofreading is generally when you check your articles for spelling, grammar and punctuation mistakes. There are a lot of things that an app won’t catch, and that is why using a human being to do the proofreading makes sense for a lot of people. Editing takes proofreading to the next level. An editor does all the things that a proofreader does, but in addition to that, an editor takes care of the formatting, the overall readability, the order of the paragraphs, the tone, the sentence structure, etc. Basically, an editor makes your article look polished.
In another context, it’s like a car that is washed or detailed. Proofreading washes it, and editing details it. I have edited thousands of articles over the past few years. Even now, I easily spend 25 hours a week just on proofreading and editing. It’s a big job, and if you are doing your own proofreading and editing, there are definitely some things you can do to make the process faster and more effective. I thought I’d share some of my tips with you, and I hope you share yours with me in a comment below. I’m always looking for ways to optimize this process.
1. Right from the start, realize nobody is perfect.
Proofreading is definitely an area of blogging where you should strive to be excellent and not to be perfect. No matter how much time you spend reading your posts, there will always be tiny mistakes that slip passed you every so often. We are human, so by default, we are not perfect. Don’t beat yourself up when you miss a detail (now if I could just take my own advice on this point, I’d be doing good).
2. Don’t proofread while you are writing your post.
If you want to handle your proofreading in the fastest, most efficient way, it’s important to write and then proof. In other words, they are two completely separate tasks. If you try to do your proofreading at the same time as you write, you’ll mess with the creativity in your writing and slow down the whole blogging process. Write your article. Take a five-minute break. Then proof your article.
3. Read your articles out loud when proofreading.
I cannot stress to you how important this is. If I didn’t read every single article out loud, I would suck as an editor. By reading it out loud, you will gain so much more insight than reading it in your head. This is such a huge priority for me, and I can’t imagine proofreading any other way. You can read more about this here on Forbes.
4. Don’t read your article like a blog visitor, read it like an editor.
This is a hard concept to explain in text, but if you can hang with me on this one, you will increase your speed and effectiveness when you’re proofreading. Count to 5. Do you see how you automatically take about a half second pause between each number? Since our brains are trained to fix some things automatically as we read them (which is one reason why nobody’s a perfect proofreader), it’s important to trip up your brain with how you are reading it.
Don’t read your article smoothly like your blog visitor will. Instead, go through each word deliberately (almost unnaturally) with a quarter or half second pause between each word. This will keep your brain from self-correcting things that you might miss.
If you are musical, you might understand what I’m trying to describe when I say it’s like playing staccato. Read your words that way when you are proofreading. This will give you the extra nano-second which could be the difference between typing “you’re” instead of “your” and other details like that.
5. Take a minute to look something up if you’re unsure about it.
I’m constantly looking up the proper way to write things and spell things on Google. Even after I’ve proofed thousands of articles, I still look up the proper way to write things everyday. Never stop learning.
There is a balance with this though, which is something Richard and I have talked about many times. You want to be correct in your writing so your message is conveyed appropriately, but you don’t want to take away your own creative freedom. In other words, a misspelled word or a funky phrase here or there, if strategically placed, expresses your personality. Find that balance.
6. Concentration is vital for fast and effective proofreading.
If you want to proofread quickly yet as accurately as possible, it’s important that you only have to read each sentence once. If you are reading it out loud, in staccato format, like I’ve suggested, and if someone distracts you or you have to answer your phone, you’ll have to start over again. This is the kiss of death for proofreaders.
I can effectively proofread a 300-400 word article in 15 minutes using these techniques IF I concentrate. If I’m distracted in any way, that can easily slip to 30 minutes, which is too much time for that many words in my opinion. I concentrate more when I proofread than when I write the article itself. It’s vital, and it’s just the nature of how it is. If your eyes hurt after proofreading your article, you know you’ve done a good job because you concentrated.
7. Ignore some of the proofreading techniques you read about.
If you want to proofread the fastest and most effective way possible, you don’t need to follow some of the things people tell you to do online (like read your words backwards or print out your posts to proofread them). I’m not saying it’s bad advice, but it definitely makes the process longer than it needs to be. If you are trying to pump out several posts over the next week, you don’t have time to proofread in these time-consuming ways. You don’t have to do anything fancy to be a great proofreader and editor. I hope if you follow these simple steps, you will have as much success with them as I have!
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