11 Jul / 2016

How To Proofread Your Blog

How To Proofread Your Blog

You’ve just poured your heart and soul into creating an epic blog post your readers are sure to love. You’re about to click the “Publish” button…Now what?

It may be tempting to just click publish and move on to the next project….but HOLD ON A MINUTE! I know,I know, you proofread it several times as you were typing and you think you’re pretty thorough with proofreading and diligent about catching spelling/grammar mistakes. But no matter how meticulous you are, you occasionally find some errors after publishing.

You should be using spellcheck, obviously, or even a service such as Grammarly. However, nothing substitutes the proofreading services of a trained professional. You may not be able to afford such a service but you could try Fiverr or Upwork.

If you must proofread yourself then there is a process the pros follow:

READ OUT LOUD

You may have heard this before, but it bears repeating since many students don’t do it… no matter how many times they hear it.

Reading your own writing out loud very s-l-o-w-l-y to yourself can make a big difference in the final stages of the revising process. It double-teams your brain so that it gets the information written on the page both from your eyes and your ears.

You may feel weird in the beginning, but after you use this proofreading tip a few times, you will no doubt decide that it is worth it! This is one of the best tricks I have used as a writer, and my students have found it beneficial in locating and fixing those pesky little awkwardly-written phrases, inconsistent verb tenses, sentence fragments, and more.

It doesn’t even matter if you know what awkwardly-written phrases, inconsistent verb tenses & sentence fragments mean! The goal is to simply mark any sentence or section of your blog that doesn’t sound quite right.

  • Not even sure what you meant when you wrote this?
    Mark that section with a colored pen.
  • Wonder if this sentence would go better in another paragraph?
    Circle it.
  • Not sure that the subject & verb match up correctly?
    Mark it.

You don’t have to have perfect proofreading skills to hear that there is something amiss in your blog! The problem with just reading over the paper is that your brain knows what is supposed to be there. So, you end up skimming right over the missing word or typos.

Don’t stop to fix anything! Resist that urge! There will be time for that later! For now, just proofread!

By reading the blog to yourself consciously and slowly, you have a better chance of catching those grammar mistakes and typos before you click publish! Here are a few tips to help with your proofreading.

Read what you wrote
Slowly. Out loud. Or, have someone read to you. And for Heaven’s sake, PAY ATTENTION!

Keep a checklist of errors
Make a list of errors you tend to make. For example, if you have made comma errors in your writing before, put “Commas” on your checklist. Check each comma. If you have used then instead of than, put it on the list and check for these errors.

Check titles and headings
Look for typos. Cross-check the title everywhere it appears. Make sure headings make sense and have a logical structure.

Cross-check citations
Make sure each in-text citation matches a Works Cited or References citation, and vice versa. Check spelling of names.

Update the file name
Change the date or add “final” so you’re sure to submit the correct version.

OK, now that we’ve covered proofreading, just exactly what are we looking for? I used to ask people to write this sentence for me: “They’re coming over there to get their car.” You will be surprised at how many people will get it wrong. If someone gets it right then say “Oh yeah, then what is one-fourth divided by one-fourth,” and watch them squirm. With that being said here is a cheat sheet by Hayley Mullen

Grammar is one of those funny things that sparks a wide range of reactions from different people. While one person couldn’t care less about colons vs. semicolons, another person will have a visceral reaction to a misplaced apostrophe or a “there” where a “their” is needed (if you fall into the latter category, hello and welcome).

I think we can still all agree on one thing: poor grammar and spelling takes away from your message and credibility. In the worst case, a blog post rife with errors will cause you to think twice about how knowledgeable the person who wrote it really is. In lesser cases, a “then” where a “than” should be is just distracting and reflects poorly on your editing skills. Which is a bummer.

I like to think that my grammar is pretty good for the average bear, but when I’m writing or editing things I’ll often turn to Google to make sure my instincts are right (especially when it comes to proper punctuation and its weird little tricks), or realize they’re not and quietly sob at my desk before composing myself and moving on.

Which is why I created this list — to have on hand for when you’re not quite sure, find the answer and get back to that article you were working on. It’s a work in progress that I dream of one day being the ultimate cheat sheet that addresses everyone’s biggest grammar pet peeves.

Repeat Offenders

You probably already know these, but a grammar cheat sheet just wouldn’t be complete without them.

Their/There/They’re

Their is possessive, meaning it owns something. There refers to a place or an idea. They’re is a contraction for “they are.”

Example: Their grammar was impeccable. There were no mistakes to be found in the article. They’re probably going to be promoted soon.

Then/Than

Then refers to timing — you did one thing, then you did another. Than is comparative.

Example: I ate McDonald’s for dinner, then followed it up with a bowl of Haagen-Dazs. Still, my eating habits are better now than when I was in college.

Its/It’s

Its is possessive, like their. It’s is a contraction for “it is.”

Example: It’s a shame we missed the baby ocelot exhibit but its lineup was way too long, even for an ocelot show.

Your/You’re (because I can’t resist)

Like its and their, your is possessive, meaning you own something. You’re is a contraction of “you are.”

Example: Your car is being towed because you’re the type of person who doesn’t read signs.

Commonly Misused/Misspelled Words

Definitely

There is no “A” in definitely.

Example: “Definately” is definitely not a word.

Affect/Effect

Affect is a verb, as in something is affecting something else. Effect is the result of something being affected.*

Example: The effects of construction in Toronto greatly affect how rage-inducing my commute is.

*This isn’t actually a hard rule, as effect can be used in certain cases as a verb. For example, “I effected a solution.”

A lot

A lot are two words.

Example: People write “alot” a lot, but it’s a whole lot of wrong.

Loose/Lose

Loose refers to the tightness of something. Lose is used when something is lost.

Example: If your doorknob comes loose and falls off, you lose the ability to leave your apartment. Please send help and/or non-perishable food items.

Weather/Whether

Weather is all that temperature and precipitation stuff. Whether expresses a condition.

Example: I’m determined to wear shorts today, whether or not the weather complies.

May/Might

Both of these are used to imply that something could happen or could have happened. May is used when there is a greater likelihood of something happening, while might is used to indicate there is little chance.

Example: I may have time to catch up on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills tonight, but I might use that time to go for a jog instead.

Continual/Continuous

Continual indicates something that continues over a long period of time, with intervals of interruption. Continuous indicates duration without interruption.

Example: Joey played Angry Birds continuously during class. His teacher would continually ask him to stop, before deeming him a lost cause and giving up.

Lay/Lie

Lay requires a direct object. Lie doesn’t require an object. The past tense of lay is laid, while the past tense of lie is lay.

Example: I lay my head down on the pillow/I laid my head down on the pillow.

Example: The rocks lie near the stream/The rocks lay near the stream.

That/Who

Use that when you’re writing about something, and who when you’re writing about someone or a group of people.

Example: The apartment above me is the one that all of the noise is coming from. Jillian, the woman who lives there, owns several parrots.

That/Which

That is used to introduce a restrictive clause which, if removed, will make the sentence nonsensical. Which is used with a nonrestrictive clause. Think of it as adding more information.

Example: My dog that is small has a total Napoleon complex.

Example: My car, which I’ve had for 10 years, still runs as well as the day I stole it.

Compliment/Complement

A compliment is what you pay to someone or something. Complement refers to something going well with or enhancing something else.

Example: Emily has been getting a lot of compliments on her sweater today. People say the color complements the green in her eyes.

Nor/Or

Nor is negative. Use nor with neither, and or with either.

Example: Neither Debbie nor Alison will be coming to the baby shower. Either they have food poisoning or we should expect an invite to their own showers about 8 months from now.

Comprise/Compose

Comprise refers to what something contains, while compose refers to what something is made up of. You’ll know which one to use depending on how it is speaking about the subject of the sentence.

Example: One day in world wide web comprises more tweets, blog posts and emails than you can imagine.

Example: The United States is composed of 50 states.

Who/Whom

Who is used when referring to the subject, or the person doing something. Whom is used for the object, or the person having something done to them. Tip: Who can often be applied when the answer is he/she/they, while whom works with her/him/them.

Example: Who forgot to close the back door and let the ‘possums in again?

Example: To whom is this suspiciously unmarked package being delivered?

I/Me

Using I or me in a sentence when you’re referring to you and another person/people also depends on whether you’re the subject or the object. If you’re the subject, use I (or we). If you’re the object, use me (or us).

Example: If Heather and I get to the cottage first, we’re claiming the best bedrooms.

Example: They told Alex and me to go outside and get some fresh air.

Everyday/Every day

Everyday is an adjective used to describe something that occurs daily or is commonplace. Every day means “each day.”

Example: Drinking coffee is an everyday habit for me.

Example: I drink coffee every day.

Defuse/Diffuse

Defuse means to make something less dangerous or tense. Diffuse refers to something being spread, scattered, or dispersed.

Example: Elaine was desperate to defuse the situation after realizing she ate a $29,000 piece of antique cake from Peterman’s mini fridge.

Example: The light diffused through the room.

Punctuation

Colon

Colons are used after an independent clause that precedes a list, or to separate an explanation or example of the preceding clause.

Example: The Uberflip blog is a great resource for everything content marketing: social media, inbound marketing, copywriting, SEO, and more.*

*Shameless plug 1 of 2.

Semicolon

You can use semicolons to join independent clauses where connectors (and, or, but) and commas aren’t used, or to separate long or complicated items in a series.

Example: Everyone hopes this summer will be a good one; after the soul-crushing winter we’ve had, some serious sunshine is in order.

Hyphen

Place a hyphen between a two-word description that refers to the thing it’s preceding.

Example: Place a hyphen between a two-word description that refers to the thing it’s preceding.

Dash

A dash is like a comma in that it introduces a related element. A dash, however, is more dramatic as it interrupts the flow of the sentence. This dash, an em dash, is different from an en dash, which is shorter and usually only used to indicate a range of numbers.

Example: An Uberflip Hub is the best gift you can give your content — it’s much better than having everything live in sad, lonely silos.

Example: I’ll be out of the office from July 18-July 21, so don’t bother emailing.

Quotations

Semicolons, colons and dashes always go outside the quotation mark, while periods and commas always go inside. Question marks and exclamation points are placed either inside or outside, depending on whether they apply to the quotation or the sentence itself.

Example: Did you mean the movie or the country when you asked if I want to come to “Madagascar”?

Example: When I asked my nephew who his favorite person is, he replied, “Aunt Hayley!”*

*A chocolate bribe may have been involved.

Apostrophes

If a single thing or person owns something, use an apostrophe before the “s.” If the thing or group you’re referring to is plural, put the apostrophe after the “s.”

Example: The Uberflip office’s ping pong table is in high demand at lunch time.

Example: A second table may be needed to accommodate all of the team members’ thirst for ping pong.

Comma Splices

Comma splices most often occur when a comma is used without a conjunction (like and, but, or as) or in place of a period or semicolon that divides or joins two thoughts that could be complete sentences on their own.

Example (wrong): Stacey was the nicest girl in class, she always shared the rainbow frosting from her Dunkaroos.

Example (right): Stacey was the nicest girl in class, because she always shared the rainbow frosting from her Dunkaroos.

Example 2 (right): Stacey was the nicest girl in class. She always shared the rainbow frosting from her Dunkaroos.

The Oxford Comma

The Oxford comma is the name given to the final comma in a series. It’s completely optional, but personally, I’m on team OC.

Example:

That’s all for now! Here’s hoping it saves you one fewer Google search (or potential grammar fail).

Richard Tipsword
Markethive Developer

 

 

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