Though proofreading is something that a lot of people don’t think a lot about, it is one of the most vital parts of publishing a blog post. Writing and content is important, but it doesn’t mean anything if your readers can’t make it through your post because of errors. A while back I wrote a post How to Proofread Your Posts Before Publishing because it’s really important to have a system in place so that proofreading every post is easy, and having a list of things to edit for will help.
Having a list is a great way to stay organized and create a strategy. You should build from my list and make one that applies to you – because everyone struggles with different elements of writing. Though you may be excellent at spelling or grammar, you might struggle with certain tenses or verbs, and you should put those specific examples on your list to make sure you always catch the mistakes. So start with this list, and use it to create your own! Here’s what I’ve got so far – I’ll be adding things as I think of them over time!
Cliches are the worst. They are as stinky as old cheese. They are just a waste of time. They are just gut wrenching. You see where I’m going with this, right? I wrote a post a little while ago – Pro Writing: Cliches – How to Avoid Them & Why You Need To. If you’re not careful, cliches can really drag down a good post. Make sure to edit every post for them!
Though tense isn’t something many people think about, it can ruin a post if you let it. Tense means switching back and forth between present, past, future, etc. in your writing. Of course, switching around is okay if you’re actually talking about things that happened versus things that are going to happen, but most people do it all in one post that should be written in the same time period. For more informaiton about tense and how to do it right you can read my post Pro Writing: How to Maintain Your Tense.
There are so many different grammar rules that you need to keep an eye out for when you are proofreading your posts. In my opinion, the most important ones are commas and apostrophes. When they are placed right, they help your writing make sense and go unnoticed, but when they are wrong they can break the flow and really tear your writing apart. I don’t have a post on grammar just yet – mostly because I need to figure out how to properly use commas myself (they are my weakness) but proofreading will help you catch the most obvious grammar mistakes.
You may or may not know this, but your headlines have their own grammar. The rules apply mostly to how you should capitalize them. There are certain words that you never capitalize, certain words you always should, and certain words that depend on where they are placed. For some details you can check out my post Headline Grammar – How to Capitalize and Why You Should, because headlines are a vital part of every post, and a grammar error there might warn people off before they even start reading.
Verbs are the most powerful parts of every sentence. They should be front and center in every sentence, and they should have true meaning. When I started out in school for professional writing, one of the exercises we repeated over and over again was to go through a piece and highlight every single verb. Then we would go through it again and make sure every one of those was as strong as it could be. Verbs can be weak in a few different ways. The first is when you haven’t chosen the right one. For example. Why say ‘running fast’ when you could say ‘sprinting’. It cuts out an unnecessary word and has such a more powerful meaning. The second is when the verb you intend to use isn’t really the verb at all. If you say ‘I am writing for my readers’, ‘am’ is the verb, though you probably meant it to be ‘writing’. Instead change the sentence to ‘I write for my readers’. You can already tell how the sentence feels so much more powerful, and the meaning is truly where you want it to be.
This one is something that a lot of people struggle with, and it’s something that really bothers a lot of people. When you use the wrong form or spelling of a word. There are hundreds of different examples of this, and everyone struggles with different ones. Some of the most common are:
- they’re, there, their
- right, write
- its, it’s
- two, too, to
- then, than
You should make a list of the ones that you struggle with the most, and then make sure to edit for those on every post. Once you do this enough, using the right forms will be something automatic for you.
Spelling is the first thing that people think of when they imagine proofreading, but it is only one small element in a long list of things to edit for. Most programs like Microsoft Word check your spelling as you write, and now WordPress even does it right in the post editor window. These are the spelling errors that are easy to catch because they are pointed out to you. But, you also need to proofread the post and check for spelling errors yourself, you can’t just rely on the built in editor. This is because the editors are just checking that the words you type are real words spelt correctly, they don’t check that they make sense in the sentence or are the correct word. Read over a post yourself to see that all the words you meant to type ended up there.
Once you’ve built a list of things to edit for that’s custom tailored to you and the things you struggle with, print it off and use it every time you write and edit a post. Eventually you’ll start to catch fewer errors, and eventually you might overcome some of your writing problems altogether!