Please read it out loud before you hit the publish button

The world of communications is vast – from press releases and thought-leadership features through to events, webinars, social media, whitepapers, award entries, and more.

But the written word is a common denominator, and something which brands – of all sizes and sectors – rely on in some way, shape, or form to get their message out there.

It’s therefore crucial that these words are well thought-out and polished, as it has been commonly referenced that bad grammar or frequent typos can severely impact not only a firm’s credibility, but customers’ trust in the brand as well.

While the fast-paced business environment may mean time is of the essence when writing content, whatever you do, don’t forget to proofread, or you could be setting yourself up for a fall.

Here are some tips to help avoid any detrimental bloopers…

Take a look with fresh eyes

Once your words have come to life on the page – or screen – the best thing to do is walk away from your desk for a while and do something else to break the cycle.

Putting this distance between yourself and your writing is crucial – not only because your eyes would likely welcome the rest, but because you can often be ‘too close’ to your words, meaning that you may self-edit less effectively.

Get in the zone

No matter how long you’ve spent drafting your recent piece, when the time comes for proofing, it’s important to make sure you have the right, non-distracting, environment set up.

Reviewing text takes time and requires concentration, so do what works for you – whether that’s popping your headphones on, making a brew, or taking yourself off to a quiet space.

Keep an eye out for tricky characters (and homonyms!)

Apostrophes are notoriously one of the punctuation marks that trip people up the most – does it come before or after the s? And what if the word already ends in an s?

Then, what about homonyms – words that have either the same spelling or pronunciation but have a different meaning?

You’ll know where your own pitfalls are and, armed with this knowledge, you should always proof your piece with these grammatical rascals in mind.

Interrogate the meaning

While grammar is one key area of a good proofreading session, when editing a piece you should also be looking at whether what is written makes sense.

From engaging titles and apt paragraph headings to statistics and logical arguments, a thorough review of an item of copy should deep dive into the meaning behind the words.

You can do this at the same time as looking for grammatical errors or you can dedicate a different period in which to do this, but whatever you do, don’t neglect to process what’s actually on the page.

Read it out loud

Have you ever had an occasion where multiple people have proofread a document, only for a sneaky typo or missing conjunction to still make its way into the piece?

That’s because human brains are clever things – they’re wired to pre-empt. As the author of the content, your brain thinks it knows what’s coming next, so it easily gets carried away – reading what it’s expecting instead of reviewing it properly.

Reading your text aloud not only helps to ensure that it sounds natural, but it will help you to spot bloopers and missing punctuation more easily.

Engage another pair of eyes

With all the will in the world, trouble-causing typos can slip through the net when you’re proofing, so it’s always better to get someone else to look over it too – a fresh take on things is always good!

Back to all Words

Written by Amy Lloyd