Proof Reading – more haste, less speed!

How often do we do something in a hurry, trying to be super-efficient and it back fires on us? Last night for example, my son was being a little (insert appropriate word here) at dinner and I was running late to meet some friends (shout out to the other half for doing bedtime so I could meet said friends). In my mad rush to get him a yoghurt, I accidentally knocked a punnet of blueberries all over the kitchen floor, down the side of the fridge door and scattered them on every shelf of the fridge. So, there I was, picking up squashed blueberries when I could have been brushing my teeth. All I needed to do was take a moment to check what I was grabbing and I wouldn’t be cursing (or noticing actually how dirty the fridge is and realising it could do with a clean).

All too commonly now, I hear and see people writing a blog post or a social media post and publishing it in a hurry, only to discover (or not discover and allow the world to discover instead), that it is full of spelling or grammar mistakes. This makes you and your business look tardy and unprofessional, it makes you feel silly and it is so easily avoidable.

My advice for content writing, is proof read, proof read, proof read! One for yourself, one for someone else and one for a different form of media or window.

Proof read #1: Re-read what you have typed, word for word, slowly. It is easy to skim read because we think we know the content, leaving us more likely to miss a mistake. This goes for emails too, not just content we want to publish.

Proof read #2: Get someone else to proof read your content. This advice comes from Tony Godwin, my go to web developer and graphic designer: “The author is often blind to typos and sees what they think they typed.” When I was at uni, after a blinding 3000-word essay was slated for having too many grammar errors (the scientific knowledge was on point, however), I enlisted my mother as Chief Proof Reader. It almost helps if the proof reader has no idea about the topic you have written about, they will be more likely to pick up on something that doesn’t read well or make sense.

Proof read #3: Copy and paste your work into another window, document or form of media. Smart phones are great for easily accessing our websites but that predictive text can be a monkey and before you know it, a quick social media post can be riddled with mistakes. I would always write a blog post in Word and copy it into my blog publisher. Not every website will pick up spelling and grammar errors, so writing directly in there can let some silly mistakes sneak in. Check before you publish that your piece is laid out well and with suitable spacing. What may look good in Word or Pages may not in your blog publisher.

The take home message is take your time. Blogs are a great SEO tool so require your full attention. I am very conscious that my son has woken up from his nap, so rather than quickly publish, I’m just going to save and come back to it later to proof read with fresh eyes…

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Harriet Brown

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harriet@hbmarketingcommunications.co.uk

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