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7 Tips for Proofing Your Own Copy


Whether you’ve written an email, a presentation or a blog you want your message to make a good impression. A handful of mistakes can have a negative impact on your audience’s perception of the credibility of both your writing and your brand. 

Ideally you get someone else to check your copy before it goes public. A colleague with a fresh pair of eyes can spot errors you’ve missed. This is because you’re so familiar with the text that you see what you think you’re written rather than the reality.

However, when you don’t have the time or resources you have to become self-reliant. Apply these tips to proof read your own copy like a hero…

Print it out

It can be easier to read text on paper than on screen, so print out a copy and check it with pen in hand.

Read aloud
By reading your writing aloud your ear will catch errors that your eye may have missed. It’s a perfect way of highlighting long sentences where a breath is necessary before the full stop.

Return to it
Step away from the document… and come back to it later on, preferably after a few hours. You’re much more likely to spot mistakes.

Read it backwards
Starting with the last sentence and reading through the piece backwards makes typographical errors stand out. It disconnects your mind from the content enabling the mind to focus fully on the text word by word.

Proofing screenCheck expected mistakes
If you frequently make the same mistakes keep a list of them to double-check against. Common mistakes such as confusing they’re and their or it’s and its are avoidable. Equally, words sharing the same pronunciation but with different meanings can be tricky eg: except and accept or complement and compliment.

Spell check
Using a built in spelling and grammar check can help you think about your copy afresh. However, it’s not foolproof. It won’t pick up on errors like mixing up whether and weather or spelling mistakes which are valid words.

Check for one aspect at a time
Read through your content a couple of times checking for a different aspect each time. Make sure you cover punctuation, capitalised words, repetition of phrases, sentence structure, numerical style and headings.

If you do need a second pair of eyes to check over your content get in touch.



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Caroline Birchall trading as The Paper Dove

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