Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty: Even if you have a way with words, create memorable content, and write a weekly topical blog post, nothing is more frustrating for the reader than publishing your content while it is still riddled with tiny errors.
I’m not talking about grammatical errors. Hopefully, we’re all beyond the worst offenders: homonym confusion, comma splices, and proper sentence structure. If you’ve spent any time with me, you know that I have zero tolerance for these kinds of grammar shenanigans. I will slap you silly until you get there/their/they’re and to/two/too right.
So, great. You’ve written a poignant blog post with no grammatical errors. You quickly run spell check and then click publish. The thing is, though, is that there are little hidden errors that spell check isn’t going to catch – dropped and/or switched letters. Speedy typing is to blame for this phenomenon, and the dropped letters often result in incorrect, yet correctly spelled, words.
While these minor orthographic errors don’t show up in spell checks, they can really slow down a reader and distract him or her from comprehending your overarching message. When drafting your articles, let the words flow as quickly as your thoughts. Then, use these tips to go back through your writing with a fine-tooth comb. The result? A totally error-proof blog:
Don’t draft in the WYSIWYG editor.
Draft in an environment where you are familiar working. I find that drafting in the WordPress WYSIWYG editor is somewhat paralyzing. When I draft in Gmail, however, the words and ideas flow more freely. Drafting my post in an email gets me over the first major hurdle: translating the words from my mind to the virtual paper. It starts out as word vomit nonsense, but it becomes slightly more readable and professional-sounding in the end.
Take a break.
Satisfied with what you’ve written? Let it simmer beyond the reach of your watchful gaze for a couple of hours or overnight. When you come back, your refreshed mind will be ready to identify phrasing and grammatical errors that you may have overlooked earlier.
Read it out loud.
Much to the chagrin of my friends, one of the most effective proofreading methods I employ is to read my work out loud. Reading out loud, rather than with your eyes, forces you to slow down and consider each word and the overall phrasing of the sentence. The eye often fills in words as it scans, so reading aloud makes a big difference in identifying dropped articles.
Let’s take a look at the differences between reading and speaking speed. The average adult reads text at 250-300 words per minute. When proofreading, that slows down to about 200 words per minute. Comparatively, average words per minute drop to 110-150 when speaking. Taking a little extra time to read your writing out loud can make a huge difference.
Listen to it.
Grab a friend who is likely to put up with your antics and have him or her read your draft to you. Though I usually reserve this method for more important articles and papers, this is a great method for revealing awkward phrasing and word choice. With this method, you get four ears listening for errors and suggesting improvements. Many birds, one stone.
If you don’t want to drag a friend into it, you can have your computer read it to you. It’s as easy as copying and pasting your article into Google Translate. Click the speaker icon in the lower right corner to get going.
Know your weaknesses.
Chances are, you know your grammatical strengths and weaknesses by now. Taking the time to improve your writing will pay huge dividends to all of your written communications.
If you’re not sure where to start, go grab that honest friend of yours. Commit to changing your ways, even if it means reviewing the basics with a Schoolhouse Rock throwback.
Admit it, you were singing along too.
Anyways, there you have it: 5 ways to ensure your blog is totally error free. While I know most of them are pretty basic, hopefully I gave you a couple of ideas to help you and your blog achieve grammatical perfection. Next time you sit down to draft your blog’s weekly release, keep these tips in mind, and you’ll *wow* even the most critical of readers.