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3 steps to proof reading on screen

Take care – when proofing on screen
Take care – when proofing on screen

We’ve all got so used to consuming such a huge volume of words on screen, tablet and mobile – that skim reading is the default.  So, how do busy PR’s step into ‘proof reading’ mode before pressing send, publish or tweet/post?

The trick when proof reading on screen, is to proof three times. It might seem a little unnecessary. But if you’re like me and the words rush from your typing fingers onto the screen, then taking the time to proof read will ensure your writing is professional and clear.

Step 1 – proof the ‘shape’

Step back from the writing and look at it afresh.  Is it clearly ‘signposted’ to guide the reader?  Does the content live up to the promise in the heading(s)?  Does it follow a logical flow and structure?   Is the format for headings, captions, bullet points consistent? Test out hyperlinks to ensure they work.

Step 2 – check for meaning

Proof read in chunks, reading sections aloud, if you can. If you are getting out of breath, or having to regularly pause/use a comma,  then sentences may be too long.  Keep content simple – use the subject-verb-object rule if you have to. Good punctuation is your friend. Get rid of anything that does not contribute to clarity and avoid jargon and abbreviations – use plain English.  Check out the readability of English writing by cutting and pasting your copy into the Gunning Fog index.  Plain English Avoid confusing headings. Is the tone consistent? Read key sections such as introduction, quotes, conclusions, notes to editors to check that they support your objectives/messages.

Step 3 – examine the detail

Finally, slow down.  This can be quite difficult to do when proof reading on screen. If you were proofing a printed copy, you could use a ruler to read each line, but this isn’t possible when proofing on screen. Instead, read each sentence backwards taking care to check for common spelling mistakes. Don’t rely on spell checker.  Check names, numbers, use of apostrophes. Avoid common grammatical errors such as use of plural  for an organisation when it should be singular, incorrect use of ‘that’ and ‘which’ and mistakes with numbers.

I cover proof reading on my Writing press releases and Writing PR Content courses and if you’d like to find out more, then do please get in touch.

Picture courtesy of – credit to imagerymajestic

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