One of the keys to crisp, clear and concise writing is to edit your work. One of the keys to proper editing is proofreading. This article will discuss how to proofread with power in order to let your web-based writing shine! It was inspired by Chapter 15 of The Yahoo Style Guide.
The first step to proofreading is to set your work aside; preferably for a few days. However, when writing for the web, sometimes there are tight turnaround times, so you may only have an hour or two. If so, take advantage of that time. The longer you look at a piece of writing (especially your own) the harder it is for you to spot errors.
Second, read your work out loud. Sure you may feel a little silly, but imagine how silly you’ll feel when your work goes out into the world with typos and other mistakes? Remember, your words will live forever. Reading out loud will help you hear any errors in usage and any inconsistencies. This is advice that I found very helpful while I was in graduate school writing papers at all hours of the day and night.
Once, you’ve read your work out loud, you’re ready to move into the nitty-gritty of proofreading. The third step is to spell check your document; but don’t solely rely on spell check. Spell check is pretty good at spotting misspelled words and even some grammatical inconsistencies. But suppose you use words with similar pronunciations that have various spellings – each with different meanings? Words such as: to, too, two or for, four or by, buy. If they’re spelled incorrectly in your document, spell check might catch them, but not if you’ve used the wrong form of the word and spelled it correctly.
*Example # 1: I ran four student body president for times.
*Example # 2: I walked buy the store when I intended to by some milk.
As a fourth step, try reading your work line by line. This will help you catch any spelling errors. Once you’ve done a line by line reading, you need to move onto the fifth step; look at the formatting of your document. This includes making sure that the spacing and layout of your piece is even and aesthetically pleasing. Checking the formatting also means making sure that your links, videos, alt text tags, labels and other multimedia components are functioning properly. I cannot tell you how many times I as a reader have read a document or web page, clicked on a link only to be told that the page does not exist. This is very frustrating and can make your readers lose interest in the rest of your work. Checking for formatting issues also includes consistency in punctuation and capitalization; and reviewing your article’s title text, headings and link text for errors as well.
I cannot stress enough the importance of proofreading your work both on and offline. Proofreading with power allows your professionalism to shine through and shows that you care about your writing. Your words are a reflection of you.
*Answer #1: I ran for student body president four times.
*Answer #2: I walked by the store when I intended to buy some milk.