Proofreading & Editing Tips, Tricks and Tools to Protect a Content Marketer’s Credibility
Most writers spend a lot of time worrying about what to write and how to write it, the flow of the content and so on.
Though, there is a small percentage of writers who are well equipped at editing their final write-ups to perfection.
We can all get ahead of ourselves, thinking we’ve buttoned everything up just because we’ve used a basic spell checker or have confidently been editing line-by-line while writing.
But the risks outweigh our pride when a piece of content falls riddled with grammatical errors and spelling mistakes, which not only makes it harder to read but can also do harm to it’s credibility.
With a little bit of caution and the right tools, a content marketer can relish in the admiration of loyal readers with better proofreading and editing techniques.
The Power of Patience and Vigilance
The first rule of thumb, once you’ve finished writing your piece, is to read it over and check the overall style of the content.
For example, MailChimp ensures writing clear and consistent content via their company style guide. This is just one of their articles on GitHub:
Time to move on to the more technical details.
Take a wider look at the flow of your content. Is it structured in a way that makes sense and communicates your messages effectively?
Consider using the inverted pyramid writing style as a jumping off point:
What about things like punctuation and sentence construction?
For these you don’t even need any online tools.
Moreover, almost none of the tools you will find online can check your punctuation properly.
Because the english language is incredibly complex.
Think about all of the grammar rules and exceptions across industry style manuals and conventions that exist:
The Canadian Style: A Guide to Writing and Editing, rev. ed., Dundurn Press, 2004.
The Chicago Manual of Style, 16th ed., University of Chicago Press, 2010. See also: Chicago-Style Citation Quick Guide.
New Oxford Style Manual, 2nd ed. Oxford University Press, 2012.
Style Manual: For Authors, Editors and Printers, 6th ed., John Wiley & Sons Australia, 2011.
Business and Technical Communication
The AMA Handbook of Business Writing: The Ultimate Guide to Style, Grammar, Punctuation, Usage, Construction, and Formatting, Amacom,
The Business Writer’s Handbook, 11th ed., Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2015.
Franklin Covey Style Guide for Business and Technical Communication, 5th ed., Pearson FT Press, 2012.
U.S. Government Printing Office Style Manual: An Official Guide to the Form and Style of Federal Government Printing (also cited as GPO
Humanities and Languages
The MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 7th ed., Modern Language Association of America, 2009.
MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing, 3rd ed., Modern Language Association of America, 2008.
Journalism and Other Media
The Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law, 46th ed., Basic Books, 2015. See also: AP Stylebook.
The BBC News Style Guide, 2003.
The Canadian Press Stylebook: A Guide for Writing and Editing, 17th ed., Canadian Press, 2013. See also: Canadian Press Stylebook.
The Economist Style Guide, 11th ed., Economist Books, 2015. See also: Economist Style Guide.
Guardian Style, 3rd ed., Random House UK, 2010. See also: The Guardian, Observer and guardian.co.uk Style Guide.
The New York Times Manual of Style and Usage, 5th ed., Three Rivers Press, 2015.
UPI Stylebook and Guide to Newswriting, 4th ed., Capital Books, 2004.
ALWD Guide to Legal Citation, 5th ed., Wolters Kluwer Law & Business, 2014.
The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation, 20th ed., The Harvard Law Review Association, 2015. See also: The Bluebook.
Science, Medicine, and Technology
The ACS Style Guide: Effective Communication of Scientific Information, 3rd ed., American Chemical Society, 2006.
AMA Manual of Style: A Guide for Authors and Editors, 10th ed., Oxford University Press, 2007. See also: AMA Manual of Style.
Geowriting: A Guide to Writing, Editing, and Printing in Earth Science, American Geological Institute, 1995.
The Manual of Scientific Style: A Guide for Authors, Editors, and Researchers, Academic Press, 2009.
Scientific Style and Format: The CBE Manual for Authors, Editors, and Publishers, 7th ed., Council of Science Editors, 2006.
Social and Behavioral Sciences
Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (commonly known as the APA Style Manual), 6th ed., American Psychological
Style Manual for Political Science, rev. ed., American Political Science Association, 2002
Don’t forget to sprinkle in common slang and idioms — I’m sure you’ll come and realize there is no foolproof solution to your bad syntax.
Proofreading is the necessary evil for verifying a document against any spelling, grammar, typos, or language discrepancies.
So, what are the possible solutions to the inevitable error of heavy eyes and anxious publish dates?
Tools for Editing and Proofreading Content
Again, while there is no all-in-one tool that can produce an error-free piece of content, there are many automated systems that can offer you suggestions for improvement.
You can use these as a springboard to help your brain grasp certain elements in your writing that may not have been picked up on prior.
Then, you can use your better human judgement to make the call when it comes to any necessary changes or revisions.
Via a quick list of tools and more comprehensive comparison table below, find what most suits your needs during the creation process:
AutoCrit: Word choice analyzer
The AutoCrit tool has minimal fees for different levels of benefits, depending on how much writing you need to get checked.
It not only checks grammar, but also highlights issues related to spacing, dialogue, and choice of words. It’s a great tool for fiction writers.
Best for: highlighting the errors in your writing style and finding repeated words or phrases.
Hemingway App: Readability analyzer
The free Hemingway App tool is rather comprehensive as it provides a readability score and highlights areas for improvement.
Through text analysis, an acceptable ratio of adverbs and phrases is suggested, as well as word choice alternatives.
It also explains how to fix your active and passive sentences.
Best for: Making the text bold, clear and simple to read.
LanguageTool: Grammar and spelling checker
LanguageTool.org is more than a grammar checker for just the English language (American, British, Australian, etc.); it can also check grammar for twenty other languages, including that of French, German, and others.
Download directly your desktop or add an extension to your browser, for free.
Best for: Profound grammar checking for various languages and language variations.
ProWritingAid: Writing style analyzer
Another free tool, ProWritingAid.com that detects grammar, choice of words issues, writing style and consistency.
It also highlights sentence construction issues related to length and repetition.
With a premium account ($35/year), you could have more access options to applications such as Google Doc and Word, interactive editing and faster analysis.
Use this tool if you are editing your own work.
Best for: Developing a consistent and strong writing style.
ClicheFinder: Highlight overused phrases
Redundant expressions have typically lost all desired effect and should be avoided when writing content.
Simply copy and paste text or paragraphs into the intended field within ClicheFinder‘s free solution and find your results bolded in red. Then, use your discretion when revising your content in hopes of creating something truly unique for audiences online.
Best for: Surfacing industry jargon and common cliches that water down articles.
To wrap, I thought I’d include the tools mentioned above, along with some others and how they stack up against one another in the market via this comparison table:
Any form of communication from your business or brand should be looked over with a fine-toothed comb for mistakes.
Your reputation is on the line.
Many have lost revenue, investors, and even faced lawsuits in the wake of releasing content that is devoid of any editing and proofreading.
But now that you have all of the resources you need to create flawless content, you can safely say that your credibility will be a defining part of the relationship building process with readers online.
Feel free to share your favorite editing and proofreading tools or practices in the comments!