I’d like to take a few moments today to discuss some tricks and helpful strategies I’ve learned through the years when it comes to proofreading my blog posts. Since 2006, I’ve written well over 4,000 posts as well as countless articles, emails and anything else you can think of. I spend most of my day sitting at my computer typing. It’s my livelihood, one of my hobbies and something I simply love to do. I can’t recall how I ever got into writing so much, but here I am. Even today, I sit, writing this post.
When I write, I like to do just an “okay” job. For the first pass, I’ll try to get everything that’s in my mind, out. I won’t overly concern myself with spelling, grammar or anything else that can get in the way of the flow, as they call it. When the inspiration strikes, I need to flesh out my ideas, lest I lose them. If there’s one thing that frustrates me to no end, it’s losing my train of thought as I’m attempting to type something out because I became too hung up on making things proper during the first go-round.
One of the tricks I like to employ at times is to type out one paragraph of whatever it is I’m writing and then stop. I’ll go over just that one paragraph to make sure it’s correct before continuing on. This saves me time and stress later on because I’m essentially working in chunks. Instead of typing out a very long blog post and then having to reread everything all at once, I’ll know that most of it’s already been totally completed by the time I get to the bottom. This strategy has been very helpful through the years.
Another benefit of utilizing the strategy I just shared is that it helps me recover my bearings as I’m in the middle of doing whatever it is I’m doing. Sometimes, when I write, I find myself lost in the middle of an enormous number of words. It can be difficult to maintain a sense of where I am and what my original goal was. By writing in paragraphs and then reviewing what I wrote, I tend to stay on track much more than if I had just written straight through.
If I’m writing something shorter than one of my long posts though, I’ll take advantage of a few different tricks. These are easy enough to utilize and I think they’re fairly straightforward and easy to remember as well. They also primarily relate to proofreading almost anything, but mostly blog posts.
The very first trick is to never trust your CMS spell checker. I use WordPress for my blogging and I have to say, it’s spell checker is a bit sub-par. Whenever I see a word that’s underlined in red, I either correct it right away because I already know the proper spelling or I copy and paste that word into Google because I don’t. When I get it sorted out with Google’s recommendation or through further inquiry on my part, I paste the corrected version of the word back into WordPress. This is the most basic task there is when it comes to proofreading posts.
When it comes to grammar, I sort of do the same thing. Grammar is a bit tougher though because many different stylistic preferences come into play. Quite a few similarly sounding words have different spellings and the like, so a more formal background in reading and writing may be necessary. Sometimes you can’t Google search your way through a proficient looking piece or post. That’s not to say that Google can’t help, because it certainly can. For instance, if you’re not sure of the difference between its and it’s, simply perform a search for “its versus it’s” in your favorite search engine. You’ll most likely learn the answer to the question you posed.
Some common misused words that you may want to research are:
Your vs. You’re
Its vs. It’s
Where vs. Wear
To vs. Too Vs. Two
Their vs. There vs. They’re
When proofreading any post I write, I always perform two functions. First, I preview the post on the outside of the website, as opposed to inside the admin area. In WordPress, there’s a Preview button that’s located in the upper right corner of the New Post page. I’ll click that Preview button and when I do so, a new window will pop up and the post I’m currently writing will appear as though it’s live on the actual website. When proofreading, I’ve noticed a huge difference in the way the words look, which changes my perspective quite a bit. My writing is altered from something that was once written by me, to something that’s now being read by me. This alone makes a big difference and I’ve caught errors using this technique that I would never have picked up on if I had stayed inside and tried to do my proofreading in the editor.
The second function I always commit to is to read my posts out loud. Again, this changes my perspective from something that was once inside my head to something that’s actually real and out there in the world. So much changes when a piece of writing is read aloud. Grammatical errors and usage errors are plain to see. This particular exercise if so helpful for locating missing commas or other punctuation. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve changed a comma or two because of the way I’ve read something.
Another tip is to distance yourself from your posts. The more distant you are, figuratively speaking, the more apt you are to pick up on an error. After I finish writing a post, I’ll stand up and walk around or do something else for a few minutes. I’ll then return to my desk and reread what I’ve written. Those few minutes of fresh air usually do me well. They again transform what I was once to close to to something I’m much less familiar with. This helps greatly when it comes to correcting a piece.
As I mentioned above, the spell check algorithm that WordPress uses isn’t the best. An easy way to get around this is to copy and paste your post into your favorite word processing application. Spell and grammar checkers in those programs and typically much more robust than ones contained in CMSs. Also, you may want to check out the Grammarly plugin for the Chrome browser. That works well with the editor inside of WordPress.
As I said, changing the perspective of your writing is critical when it comes to checking your work for errors. An excellent way to change perspective is to actually print out your post. Once printed, try reading and correcting from the bottom up as opposed to the top down. Your post will seem completely unfamiliar when being read from the bottom up and I’m sure you’ll see things you’ve missed previously.
I think I covered most of what I wanted to say. If you have anything else to add or if you’d like to share some writing and proofreading tips and tricks of your own, please do so down below. Thanks!