Checking something you’ve written is tedious and time-consuming. While writing a blog post is creative and inspiring, proofreading requires a different kind of brainpower and can be incredibly draining.
But proofreading a blog post before hitting publish determines the success of your content. Imagine if there’s a typo in the first sentence? Even worse, in the headline? What if you’ve misspelt someone’s name? What if you’ve embarrassingly spelt embarrass wrong?
At best, errors can interrupt the flow of reading. You might lose your audience’s attention or interest. At worst, you’ll lose their trust. They’ll expect the same sloppiness or poor attention to detail in your services or products.
Failing to proofread is like writing an amazing speech for an event but turning up to read it wearing scruffy clothes, mumbling, mispronouncing words, and refusing to look at the audience. It wouldn’t matter what you were saying. People wouldn’t take you seriously.
The same goes for written content. So, make sure you convey your message clearly, concisely, and correctly with these nine proofreading tips for bloggers.
9 Tips for Proofreading a Blog Post
Begin with an Edit
Proofreading is a kind of editing. While proofreading is focused on technical errors and inconsistencies, editing is all about perfecting and polishing your content. It’s more general and may include reorganising, cutting out content, or rephrasing certain sections.
Editing comes before proofreading and addresses different problems. When editing, you want to focus on:
- Cutting it down – pay particular attention to redundant phrases and words such as in order to. Opt for short and snappy sentences and keep paragraphs around four lines long.
- Keeping it concise – look out for places where you veer off on a tangent. Eliminate passages that don’t elucidate your main point. Watch out for unnecessary adverbs or prepositions.
- Prioritising clarity – avoid too much jargon, too many acronyms, and flowery or over-the-top language. Blog posts should be informal and conversational—as though you were speaking to a friend. Is any part of your post unclear or confusing?
- Making it consistent – do you use the same tone of voice throughout your blog post? Look out for stylistic dissonance—places where it sounds like someone else is writing.
- SEO – make sure you’ve included all your keyword phrases, especially in the introduction, title, and headers.
Find a quiet spot to read through your writing, avoiding distractions, and even turning off your Wi-Fi. You might also want to alter the font temporarily, encouraging you to see it with fresh eyes.
When reading, make sure you’re concentrating at each stage. Many people find reading out loud helps. Focus on one paragraph at a time and take a break between each one. Stop as soon as you start to get tired.
Move onto Proofreading
Proofreading can feel daunting. Confronting a wall of text, it’s hard to know where to start. But it’s best to be systematic and follow a clear strategy. Focus on one thing at a time. Compile a list of exactly what you’re looking for.
This will include:
- Punctuation – keep a particularly close eye on apostrophes, quotation marks, hyphens and dashes, and missing commas or too many commas.
- Spelling – some of the most frequently misspelt words include separate, definitely, embarrass, unnecessary, and
- Grammar – look out for subject-verb disagreement, missing commas in compound sentences, and pronoun disagreement.
- Formatting – are your bullet points all formatted in the same way? Which words should be italicized? Have you correctly numbered all the pages? What about capitalization and full-stops? Check against a style guide if necessary.
Many people find proofreading more taxing than editing because it requires you to closely examine each individual word. This can be exhausting, so don’t tackle this task when you’re tired.
You might also want to print out your copy. Reading from paper is less strenuous for our eyes. Before printing, double-space the text or separate between each sentence so it’s easier to read.
When reading, try using a ruler to isolate the line you’re checking at that moment. And you want to focus on the words, not the meaning (which is what editing is for). Reading the entire text backwards can help with concentration.
Making factual mistakes is a sure way to undermine your credibility. One mistake is enough to throw everything you say into doubt.
Double-check any claims that you make—especially claims that involve superlatives such as only, first, or most. Check the spelling of names and places. Verify all dates. Ensure you correctly copied any statistics as well as official titles. And only reference reliable and reputable sources.
Break the Rules, Sometimes
A blog post isn’t the same as an academic paper or even a case study or whitepaper. It’s more conversational and personal. Therefore, breaking the occasional grammatical rule is totally fine as long as it makes your writing more readable.
Grammar rules that are considered breakable include:
- Starting a sentence with a conjunction – for example, but, and, because, and while you might have been taught at school that this is grammatically incorrect, many publications do this regularly and it often sounds better.
- Contractions – in very formal writing, you might want to avoid contractions such as I’m, you’re, or isn’t. But in most cases, it sounds more natural to use them.
- Ending a sentence with a preposition – while it might be grammatically incorrect, nearly everyone would write “Who are you talking to?” rather than “To whom are you talking?”
- Fragmenting sentences – consider the sentences Luxury watches are expensive. Which is why we’re so excited about this upcoming sale. Officially, that should be one sentence. But it reads much better as two.
Take a Break, Then Check Again
We can’t stress this enough. Editing and proofreading both require a lot of brainpower. Unless you’re full of energy, you won’t be able to concentrate on the words in front of you.
You also want to come to it with fresh eyes so you can see it from an outsider’s perspective. We recommend taking at least 24 hours before doing another read through. If you can’t afford to wait that long, go for a walk, get a change of scene, stop thinking about it for a while, and when you come back, you’ll be able to see it objectively.
Ask a Friend to Take a Look
No matter how meticulous we are, there will always be things that we miss. So, take advantage of your friends or colleagues to get a fresh perspective. They can offer feedback on how clear and engaging the text is and might spot typos and errors that passed you by.
Make the Most of Online Tools
Thanks to machine learning and artificial intelligence, computer software is getting better and better at identifying and alerting us to even the most complex mistakes. Grammarly is one of our favourite tools. It highlights any spelling and grammar errors and also tells you how clear and easy-to-read your writing is, even alerting you to over-use of the passive voice or excessive wordiness.
As well as spelling and grammar checkers, you can take advantage of online readability checkers like the Hemingway App—which highlights lengthy and complicated phrasing, identifying confusing sentence structure and weak adverbs—as well as free plagiarism checkers to ensure you haven’t accidentally replicated someone else’s work.
But Don’t Depend on Tools Alone
Even though spelling and grammar checking tools are increasingly advanced, they still make mistakes. This is why most apps will highlight potential errors but won’t automatically correct them—because they don’t always get it right. These tools can function as the first round of proofreading, but you should perform your own checks too.
Only a human proofreader can determine whether the software’s suggestion is correct, whether you’re breaking a grammatical rule deliberately, and whether you’re following the correct style guidelines. Digital proofreaders can’t pick up all inconsistencies or gaps in logic because they don’t actually understand the content.
Hire a Professional
Perfect proofreading requires an in-depth understanding of the English language. What’s more, proofreading and editing is incredibly time-consuming. While professional proofreaders are trained to check copy quickly and efficiently, for most people it’s dull and exhausting.
So why not outsource the job to someone who knows what they’re doing? It will save you effort and energy that could be spent on other tasks.
Proofreading: Often Tedious, Always Essential
Proofreading is dull. Which is why we consistently put it off—sometimes neglecting to do it entirely. But publishing poor quality content can do more harm than good. No one will be interested in what you have to say if you can’t say it properly.
That said, proofreading takes time and energy—which might be better invested in other aspects of your business. Hiring a professional proofreader might be an expense but if they can do it better and faster than you, then it’s worth it in the long run.