Rachel Forcella – Content Strategist writes immaculately, her content is one of my absolute favourites to read. She has very kindly agreed to share her 5 tips for perfect proofreading with us.
When it comes to creating copy and content for your business, there are a lot of things to consider.
What do you want to say? How do you want to say it? Where are you going to say it? Who are you even talking to?
If you’ve put the time and effort into thinking about these things and getting them right, then you don’t want to fall at the final hurdle by making basic mistakes when it comes to actually writing your website copy, social media posts and blogs.
Without wanting to trigger memories of your fearsome English teacher from school – I’m talking about spelling and grammar mistakes.
First things first, this isn’t some Grammar Nazi thing – I actively encourage my clients to forget what they were taught in English lessons at school – but the fact is, spelling and grammar mistakes can damage your brand on a subconscious level.
There are two things at play here. Firstly, your reader will either consciously or subconsciously pick up on the fact that you’ve written, for example, ‘their’ instead of ‘they’re’. This will trigger silent alarm bells about something not being ‘quite right’ about you or your brand. It will introduce doubt into their mind about you.
As humans, we’re hardwired to sense fakes and frauds, and our inbuilt warning system hunts out clues and evidence so that we can be best protected from our predators. Now, you know and I know – consciously – that just because someone’s spelt a word wrong, it doesn’t mean that they’re about to devour you for lunch or run off with your life savings. However, your subconscious isn’t quite so sure.
Harvard did some research that showed that 95% of purchases are driven by the emotional subconscious, not logical reasoning. This means that we don’t want to give our potential client’s subconscious anything to worry about!
Secondly, when you create copy and content for your audience, you want the reader to be completely immersed in what you’re saying. The best writing makes the reader beg to read the next line. You’ve taken the time to figure out exactly what you want your audience to read – you’ve plotted a journey for them, and you want to hold their hand until the end, where you’ll ask them to take the next step with you (whatever that may be).
A spelling or grammar mistake will disturb that flow. It will distract them as they read your beautifully constructed blog or sales page. Again, this may be on a subconscious level, but if your reader is wondering if the “i” should be before the “e”, they’re not concentrating on your message.
Spelling and grammar mistakes will always happen. You can have a piece proofread by seven different people, and a typo will still slip through (true story). But there are things you can do to help minimise the risk.
Here are my 5 top tips for perfect proofreading…
1. CORRECT MISTAKES AS YOU GO ALONG⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
While you don’t want to disturb the flow of your writing, never write more than a couple of paragraphs without going back and correcting any spelling or grammar mistakes.
2. USE AN APP⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Spelling & grammar apps such as Grammarly are incredibly useful. However, don’t just accept all the suggested changes, as quite often, the app can misunderstand what you’re writing. Use the app as a guide, rather than the rulebook.
3. CHANGE THE FONT & SIZE⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Your eyes get used to what you’re writing, and therefore you can miss mistakes. By copying and pasting the text into a new file and changing the type and size of the font (and even the colour!), you will see a ‘new’ piece of writing and will be more likely to pick up spelling and grammar mistakes.
4. READ IT OUT LOUD⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
You might feel a little crazy, but the best way to perfect your copy is to read it out loud. Not only will you spot spelling and grammar mistakes, but you’ll also see where the copy doesn’t really work or flow. This is especially useful if you want a more conversational tone to your writing.
5. CHECK BACKWARDS⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
For one final check (which is especially important if something is going to be printed, rather than online where it can be edited afterwards), read the copy from the bottom up. Start with the last sentence and read upwards. This will take the copy out of context, and any mistakes will jump out at you!
Rachel works with female entrepreneurs across the globe, helping them to gain clarity around their business by uncovering their message and revealing their voice – and empowering them to use their message and voice through content that attracts, connects and engages with their ideal clients.
Rachel launched her first business, a beauty & lifestyle services venture, in 2003 and ran that company for three years before heading into the world of corporate finance, working directly with hundreds of small and medium-sized business here in the UK. She also has a degree in English Language & Linguistic Science.