Precision copy editing is not at the top of most people’s skill set. Outside of running spell check and making sure there are no wavy blue lines in the Word document, most blog writers feel they are ready to click “publish” as soon as they finish their final sentence. No one expects perfection on the internet anyway, they probably figure.
Although there is a certain level of laxity inherent in online writing, that doesn’t mean all bloggers should neglect basic proofreading. Having higher-quality writing on a website helps establish trust. Readers know that a writer who cares about his or her words is likely to care about his or her customers. Plus, it’s difficult to establish oneself as an expert in a field when one makes common spelling or grammar errors.
Here are seven basics that will correct most errors.
- Beginnings and endings. Capitalize the first word of each sentence and end each sentence with some sort of punctuation, usually a period.
- Capitalize names of people, places and titles. Everything else is usually lowercase. Avoid the impulse to capitalize a word just because it seems important.
- Read the post out loud to yourself. Deliberately read each word as written, not the entire sentence as you meant for it to read. This is how you catch missing or duplicated words. Some people swear by reading the post backwards.
- Check your apostrophes. Unless someone is possessing something, an apostrophe generally is unnecessary. For example: Jennifer’s book (yes, she possesses the book.) Jennifer is reading two book’s (incorrect, plurals don’t require apostrophes)
- Watch out for homophones, which are words that sound the same but are spelled differently. For example: I slammed the breaks on the car (should be “brakes”) or Your getting good at grammar (should be “you’re”).
- Run the spell check, but don’t put too much faith in it. It will not catch missing words, extra words, homophones, punctuation marks or incorrect words.
- Double check numbers. Saying billion when you meant to write million can be a big problem. Know the difference between percent and percentage points. Make sure phone numbers aren’t missing digits.
Once you have some proofreading practice under your belt, you’ll likely start to see patterns or errors that you commonly make. Then you can use the “find” command to search for your troublesome words and give them a closer look.