Yes, I know, us copywriters are always banging on about the important of proofreading.
And no, I’m not going to claim to be whiter than white in that area. I am human, I make mistakes, but I do my utmost to stop any typos slipping through.
You may have seen this on Facebook recently (it’s appeared in my timeline several times):
Go on, admit it. You had to read it twice, didn’t you?
See how easy it is to let a mistake slip through?
So how can you make sure your typos are spotted before it’s too late?
Two pairs of eyes are better than one
One of the best ways of proofing your work is to get a trusted colleague to read it through for you.
By trusted I mean someone you know who will actually read every word rather than skimming it.
Because they haven’t written it, they are more likely to spot any errors you’ve made.
That’s great if you work with other people, but what happens if you’re a freelancer working on your own?
Proofing your own work is tricky.
You wrote it, you know what you wanted to say, so your brain has the tendency to trick you into thinking what you thought you wrote is actually what is on the page.
Of course, you could hire in a proofreader to check your work for you. But that adds an additional cost to your work that you’ll either have to absorb or pass on to your clients.
The other option is the one I use. Yes, it’s time consuming, but it does pick up your errors.
First, once you’ve written your copy put it to one side – preferably for at least 24 hours – and go and do something else.
Then, print it out.
OK, I know, that’s not very environmentally friendly, but reading off a screen is horrible and you can’t easily mark-up errors when you find them.
Next, start from the last word on the last page and read it backwards, right to left.
For starters it won’t make sense so you’ll concentrate on each word, meaning you’re more likely to spot any typos.
Once you’ve read through the whole document like that, start from the beginning and read it out loud. This will not only highlight any grammatical errors and incorrect word usage, it will also draw your attention to any repetitions and the rhythm of your writing.
Then, go back through and make the changes you marked-up and go through the whole process again.
It might sound long winded, but it will save a lot of embarrassment in the long run.
Over to you
Do you have a different technique for proofing your work? If so leave a comment below and tell us about it.