Proofreading is an essential part of the content creation process. Without it, you risk publishing unpolished copy riddled with errors, which could hamper engagement, conversions and your brand’s image.

It may sound like a simple task at face value, but in actuality, effective proofreading can be challenging. It’s not just about giving your content a quick glance over, it’s about checking the details and ensuring it’s written as well as it can be, requiring a high level of concentration and attention to detail. This isn’t easy, but there are a few things you can do to maximise the number of mistakes you spot.

To help you out, we’ve shared some of our top tips for proofreading below.

Zoom in

Smaller mistakes like missing letters or punctuation marks can be surprisingly easy to miss when reading text at normal size. For this reason, it’s a good idea to zoom in on the content to make these things easier to see. Getting close to the copy makes these little typos much more obvious on your screen, so you’re a lot less likely to glance over them.

Reduced reading speed

It can be a difficult habit to get out of, but reading content at your normal speed isn’t the best idea when proofreading or sub-editing. Similar to the above, using your normal pace can make you much more likely to skip over the small, harder-to-spot mistakes. By consciously reducing your speed, you give yourself more time to assess each word and identify any errors, reducing the chances of you glazing over them. 

Do multiple read-throughs

There’s a lot to think about when proofreading and sub-editing. You shouldn’t just be checking for spelling and grammar errors, you should look to refine the flow of the copy, fact-check and simplify the way it’s written (to name but a few). That’s a lot to consider all at once, so it can be a good idea to do multiple read-throughs of anything you proofread, looking for one set of issues at a time. 

Start by checking if there are any big-picture problems that will require a significant rewrite, such as factual errors or content that contradicts the brief. There’s no point in checking the copy for spelling errors if it will have to be completely changed anyway, so it always makes sense to start with this. Then, do separate reads to refine the way it’s written and to check for any spelling errors, grammar issues or typos.

Read aloud

Reading the content aloud is a nice way of checking its flow and readability, as well as spotting any missing or misused words. If it doesn’t quite sound right when spoken aloud, chances are the reader will be struggling with it, too, so it suggests that it might need tweaking.

If you work in an office, there’s no need to start dictating your content to the rest of the room here. Even muttering it under your breath will be enough to give you an idea of how it sounds and whether it could do with being phrased in a slightly different way.

Use a text-to-speech tool

Like the above, using a text-to-speech tool can be a great way of listening back to your content to find out how it will come across to readers. This is particularly useful for spotting missing words and identifying how naturally the content flows.

If you do try this, remember to set the text reader to a slow speed. It’s easy to get impatient and up the pace when doing this, but this will make it harder for you to spot mistakes, defeating the purpose of using it.

Try to void perfectionism

It’s important to remember that you won’t be able to catch every single error on every single page. Sometimes, one or two mistakes are going to slip through the net. Of course, you’ll want to use every tool in your content arsenal to minimise the chances of this happening but try not to get too hung up on finding everything, as you simply won’t be able to achieve this.

Delegate it to a teammate…

You’re much less likely to spot errors with your own work, as you may read what you think you’ve written rather than what’s actually on the screen. Getting a teammate to take a look instead allows you to get a second opinion from a fresh pair of eyes. They will be able to advise on how your content sounds from a reader’s perspective without any bias or prior knowledge of the post, advising on how it actually comes across (rather than how you think it comes across).

For this reason, the proofreader/sub-editor should always be someone other than the original writer wherever possible.

…or delegate it to us

Need a hand checking your content or giving it an overhaul? Get in touch with our knowledgeable team today or check out the rest of our handy content tips over on the It Works blog