Your proofreading checklist should include the most important parameters that define high-quality writing. Here’s an essential checklist for proofreaders for creating an advertising copy or an informative web page.
First, Do a Cursory Reading of the Document
Product and Persona
Images Must Be Logically Related to the Text
Give Citations for Any External Data or Images Used
Verify the Facts
Give a cursory reading to the whole document if possible, just to check whether the text is clear and the entire content makes sense. Ensure that the different sections are structured logically, starting from the broad, down to the specifics. There shouldn’t be a part that is missed or repeated, and that the paragraph transitions exist.
The author’s voice should be an easy to follow narrative that helps make the brand more memorable. The tone is usually friendly and upbeat for most types of web content. A website particularly needs to have an inviting tone that encourages the reader to learn more and keep coming back for unique information. The tone alone can determine a user’s relationship with the content.
In the final editing stage, product and persona are elements that need to be refined. It’s important to make sure the product is positioned in a way that’s consistent with the brand image. A company that targets various buyer personas can make the mistake of using incorrect language when positioning the product. It’s important too that buyer personas are well defined.
Grammar errors can be common even among the best writers, usually depending on how fast the writing was done. Make sure the sentences make sense and do not confuse words such as “there,” “they’re” and “their.” Another common mistake is the interchangeable use of “your” and “you’re.” Misuse of “its” and “it’s” is another mistake that seems to be made by everyone at one time or another.
Many marketers use storytelling as a technique to showcase their products. In order for stories to be interesting, the storyteller must provide a constant flow of important information that grows in a logical pattern.
Each sentence must flow into the next one with a natural feel. Any conclusions need to be backed with reasonable statements. General statements followed by more detailed statements help create a logical flow.
You may be writing for a company that has its own writing style guide. There are various style guides to choose from, depending on who you are writing for. Academic style guides differ from industry style guides. It’s important to keep the writing style consistent. Journalists often use AP style, which is delivered in a news reporting style.
When you use jargon, you narrow your audience. Think about whether the content is meant for a wide audience of a specific industry audience. The same can be said about using slang or regional sayings. It’s usually best if the content can be readily interpreted by the widest possible audience. Many times people tune out when they see too many unfamiliar terms.
It’s easiest to use a built-in spellchecker; otherwise you have to do extra research. Usually misspelled words are underlined with squiggly lines. However, even trained proofreaders sometimes miss seeing these typos. When words are not spelled correctly, it can create the perception of a careless messenger. It can cause readers to immediately assume that the writing wasn’t considered serious enough by the author to be edited.
Always make sure that any links you provide in your text go to their proper destination and that they work properly. Broken links can be a credibility burner as well as a waste of time, creating a poor user experience.
Another drawback to broken links is that they are frowned upon by search engines and can negatively affect search rankings. It’s best to test all the links and make sure there are no issues that can affect reputation.
A casual reader of your content will pay more attention to the images than the text in it. This makes it imperative that the images chosen make sense as per the context. They should stand on their own, rather than require an explanation by making the readers ask more questions. A proper image will effectively hit home the points mentioned in the copy.
It might sound strange, but you might be unwittingly stealing content from the web, even if your intentions are right. So, ensure that you give proper citations to any external data or images you’ve used in your copy, just to avoid serious copyright issues that might emerge later./
While you proofread, check the veracity of any number, proper noun, or any fact that you come across. If there are numbers or percentages, work out the math, Verify all those things that are not evergreen, like law proposals becoming acts, a corporate merger or takeover, a new version of the software program released in the interim, etc. If you are using the template of another report into your new one, inspect it very carefully, just to make sure that no such content, such as the name of the previous client, slips through to the new report.