Let’s start with a cartoon in honor of Halloween:
Yesterday, I shared a few things that scare me and what I am doing about it. I also encouraged you to share what scares you too. Would “bad grammar” make your list?
I didn’t include it on my list because I am actually trying to let go of the “grammar nerd” in me. At least when it comes to things like texting and commenting on social media. Here are a few reasons why:
- English may not be their first language.
- Autocorrect is evil.
- People are busy and can’t proofread everything.
- Mistakes and typos are inevitable.
- If I can understand what they are trying to say, then who cares?
If you read this blog, then you know I have a casual writing style that probably makes real grammarians cringe. I use words like “wanna” and sentence fragments. I will end a sentence with a preposition or start one with the word “and.” These are not mistakes though. My intent is to convey a conversational type style.
While you should also try for a more conversational writing style, mistakes in your marketing or fundraising materials should absolutely be kept to a minimum.
Here are some tips to help you proofread your work:
- Read through your blog post twice at the VERY least. How many times I read mine depends, but I bet on average it’s at least four times. Maybe more.
- Read it slowly and pay attention to every word, especially those words that most people get confused about like “your” and “you’re” and “it’s” or “its.”
- Read your writing out loud. Remember Tip #2 and read it slowly. Concentrate on each word and read contractions as two separate words (read “it’s” as “it is”) to make sure you are using the correct word.
- If you’re writing a blog post, proof it in preview mode and not in your editor. Or print it out. Look at it in a new format.
- Step away from your computer and take a break. Sometimes you look at something too long and it becomes what you want it to be, instead of what it really is. Come back and read it again with fresh eyes and a fresh perspective.
- Have someone else with a good grasp on the English language read it. You know that friend who corrects you on Facebook or in front of strangers? Ask them. (Then tell them to lighten up cause it’s only Facebook!)
- Pay attention to mistakes you make a lot. I, ironically, often type “proof” as “proff” which stinks when I write posts about proofreading (or proffreading as I have typed about 3 times today). I also have trouble with “campaign” which is also a problem since I write to nonprofits who are running campaigns. Kivi’s issue is with two-letter words for some reason. Again, we know how to spell these words – it’s more our fingers betray us when we are typing. But we know to pay extra attention to make sure those common mistakes are corrected.
- Finally, read rouy gnitirw sdrawkcab. Ok, not like that. Read the words right to left instead of left to right starting at the end. This won’t help with content of course, but it will make you focus on individual words. You can also read each sentence from the end of the post to the beginning. You can still focus on content, but it also helps you look at it from a different view.
Have any other proofreading tips? Share in the comments below!