Website proofreading is become more and more important as the competition on the Net increases. How would you feel if you bought a book or a magazine which had grammar, punctuation or spelling errors?
Wouldn't you think it was unprofessional?
Well, there's no reason why a website should be any different!
You may think that with today's modern technology, you have all the tools you need to self-edit your work. Let's take a look at some of them ...
- Grammar checkers
Good for a first check.
BUT... They are only programmed to pick up a limited number of rules and you anyway need a basic knowledge of grammar to know what to change.
- Spell checkers
Yes, definitely use them - you will pick up a lot of errors this way.
BUT... A spellchecker cannot identify if the use of the word is incorrect so long as it is a "real" word. For example, confusing it's and its is a common error which a spellchecker won't pick up.
A note for non-native English speakers: Many words are "false friends" which means they sound similar or have a similar spelling in another language but the meaning is not the same.
- Automatic translators
Good to get a general understanding of the material.
BUT... Texts are translated "word for word" and sound very strange to a native speaker. Many idioms which sound perfectly fine in a foreign language do not makes sense when translated.
If English is your second language, you MUST get your writing checked over by an editor who is a native English-speaker if you want the result to be professional. Click here to read more.
I've been an English Language Editor for most of my working life, and here are some useful tips about website proofreading and editing specifically, and editing written texts in general...
STEP 1: Self-Edit
After you have finished writing and you read your work over again, you will want to make changes. I can assure you that EVERY time you read your work you will find something to change. The more important the text, the more you will want to read it and change it.
Here are 3 Important Editing Tips to help you self-edit your writing ...
- Formal or Informal language?
Know your audience. If you are writing for an intellectual audience - and this also applies to writing text books, exams or business letters - you need to use formal language. You need to use longer sentences and more sophisticated vocabulary.
If you're writing a blog, a newsletter or marketing a product, you usually want to use a more friendly style of writing as if you're talking directly to the reader. Make it easy to read - use short, concise paragraphs. Avoid using the Passive voice.
- Stick to the point!
Each paragraph should deal with a separate thought. Make sure you follow through with your train of thought. Keep to a logical order - don't jump from one subject to another.
- British or American English?
In British and American English, there are many different words for the same things.
Just as an example, a handbag in Britain is called a purse in America and just to make things even more confusing, a purse in Britain is called a wallet in America!
And then there are words which mean the same but have different spellings, like travelling and traveling, labour and labor, realise and realize.
Either style is fine, but you must stick to one or the other!
STEP 2: Second round of editing
Before you start on your website proofreading, take a break for a day or two, then look over your work again and give it a final "polish". For sure you will find more things to change, and this is entirely normal.
The danger is that you might get fed up with looking at it or you won't be able to see the errors because you've seen them so many times. Or you just may not have the time if you have a deadline to meet. This is why most professional writers work with an Editor.
An Editor must have a good knowledge of the language, but the most important thing is that he/she is an objective observer. An Editor is a fresh pair of eyes!
An Editor will not only make sure that you have kept to the above rules, but will also look at the style and flow of the text. If you just can't afford to pay a professional editor, you should at least ask a friend or family member to read it over for you.
STEP 3: Proofreading
Whether you're writing a book, an article for a magazine or a website, proofreading is the final stage before publishing your text.
What is the difference between proofreading and editing? Proofreading is where the text is checked for grammatical or spelling errors (typos), correct spacing and punctuation.
Again, it's preferable to get a professional to do this for you. As an Editor, I always make sure I do a final proofreading check.
Even if you think you've done a good job at self-editing, I would recommend that you still use a website proofreading service.
You can find no end of proofreading and editing services on the Net. But one thing I've learnt over the years, is that editing texts written by non-native English speakers needs special skills.
For the past 12 years I have been an English language editor for text books which teach English as a foreign language, so this is my expertise.
Since I started building my own website, I've realised that there is a need for more website proofreading and editing services. Although knowledge and passion for your subject is of #1 importance, if your website is full of grammatical errors and wrongly used idioms you're visitors will move on very quickly and will probably not return!
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