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October 17, 2013

5 Tips for Proofreading Your Own Posts

There's nothing worse than writing up a post and getting the formatting just right only to discover moments after pressing publish that there is a typo. I hate typos, particularly (maybe even more so) in my own writing. However, each week I still find typos once my post goes live.

Today's tip is a bit more 'do as I say, not as I do'. While it is always best if you have someone else read through your post, it isn't always possible. By taking a few extra minutes you can eliminate those pesky typos on your own.

Tip 1 - Read it later

Write your post and then set it aside for a little bit. It is best if you can wait 24 hours, but even 30 minutes will give you "new eyes". Often we can't see the typos because we are too close to our writing. We know what it is suppose to say and, therefore, see it correctly when in fact it is not correct. My typos are blatantly obvious when I review the post the next morning.

I know finding time to write posts can be tricky. I'm writing this post at 7:00 pm on Wednesday night. I also know from past experience (when I was really disciplined to get my posts written on Saturdays and Sundays) that I had way fewer typos when I was able to review my post a day or so later.

Tip 2 - Read it backwards

A few years ago, I took a proofreading course at work. One of the tips I took away from the course was to read the document backwards. Again, this helps with how you see the words on the page. By reading your post one sentence at a time, starting at the end, it will re-wire your brain to not see the post as a whole but as individual sentences and words. It also slows your reading down so you are more likely to read each word in the sentence instead of glossing over them as our mind is apt to do.

Tip 3 - Read it out loud

Wrong word choices can be eliminated by reading your post out loud. I have a horrible time with homophones. You may be thinking how does reading it out loud help with correcting a word that sounds like the correct one. But there is a connection in the brain that makes you stop to think when verbalizing words. This slowing down gives you a chance to see the wrong spelling is used. Reading it out loud will also help you hear missing words - the, a, and other articles that are often left out - and duplicate words.

Tip 4 - Re-read it for specific words

Common mistakes are made with "it, in, is" as well as "the, to, too". These words won't be picked up by spell check. Focus on each use of these words in your post to make sure you are using the correct word.

Tip 5 - Read it and leave out words

I have a "that" problem. Many people do. Also there is the "just" problem. The problem occurs when we add extraneous words to our sentences. I want to put "that" in almost every sentence. However, 99% of the time it is not needed. (Ooh, I just used "just" and had to delete it - it is appropriate in this sentence, but not needed in the previous sentence). A way to know if you can eliminate the word is to read the sentence without the word. If it still makes prefect sense, then you don't need it. Eliminating these extra words will tighten up your writing.

Following these tips will help you clean up your post and make your writing more clear. However, remember you are human and people aren't perfect. Thankfully in the digital world, you can pretty easily correct your own posts on your own site even after it is published.

Donna Huber is an avid reader and natural encourager. She is the blogger behind Girl Who Reads and author of the how-to manual Secrets to a Successful Blog Tour.

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  1. This is a really great post. I don't know How many times I have had to go in an update something because I find a mistake I didn't see before, and I am usually in a hurry, so I am sure I miss a lot to. I do medical transcription also, so I am going to apply your techniques there as well. Thanks for sharing!

    1. It's the time crunch that causes me to miss a lot of typos. I need to remember my own advice.

  2. A great post. Great tips for proofing in general. Sometimes we forget that blog posts are just as important to edit.

    1. I know I often don't taken the time to proof my posts. These posts are just as much a reminder to me as it is for my readers.

  3. Really enjoyed the post. Would you hate me if I mentioned that it said 'prefect' instead of 'perfect'? I AM a proofreader after all! But I really enjoyed the post. It's amazing how easy it is for us to notice the errors of others, but not our own (speaking as an author!) And yes, isn't it great that we can go back and modify our blog posts? I have to do it sometimes. too.