Whether you are trying to craft a funny tweet, news release or website copy, proofreading is a must. Brands depend on us as PR professionals to convey their ideas in a way that is professional and credible. Strong writing skills increase the likelihood that your message will be understood by your readers. In an increasingly digital world, it has become even more important to master proofreading – once a tweet or post goes viral, there is no taking it back to correct a spelling error. Check out these four proofreading tips to strengthen your writing:
Grammar and punctuation
It may seem like common sense, but manually checking your spelling and grammar can make a huge difference. As convenient as it may be, you can’t rely on spellcheck to bail you out of all potential grammar and spelling mishaps. Those pesky homophones can hide in a sentence, changing the sentiment of what you are trying to say. A misplaced comma can also impact your intended message – sometimes for the worse! Manually checking the details is about way more than making sure you spelled everything correctly; it’s about assessing how your words come together to create meaning. Taking that extra time can change everything.
Read your writing out loud to yourself to see how it sounds. If you find yourself tripping over a phrase, there may be an issue with your wording. If it messes you up, chances are your reader will have a tough time! Doing this can also help you find words that either are being used too often or don’t belong in the context. If you are comfortable, try reading it aloud to someone else. If they can understand what you have written, then you can have the peace of mind that you wrote the material in a concise, understandable way.
Writing style (AP Style, that is)
AP Style is huge for PR professionals and journalists. This style of writing allows us to transmit our messages in a way that is consistent, standardized and (mostly) error-free. While your audience may not necessarily recognize AP styling, its mere presence adds clarity and standardizes writing. Thus, your message is effectively reaching your audience and possibly attracting the attention of journalists.
Consistency is super important in written communications. Are you using the same tone throughout? Did you check and see if you are using the same tense? Switching tenses, tones or styles throughout a piece can come across as sloppy or unprofessional, which affects how your message is received. Taking that moment to ensure everything is aligned in tense and tone will ensure a seamless transmission of your intended message.
Here’s a free tip: take a break. This tip may sound a little counterproductive since you are not actively working on your piece. But, now might be a good time to pick it back up again for another read. Sometimes, you can get bogged down in the details of your writing. Taking that minute or two (or longer) of walking away from the work and coming back to edit can allow you to see things with fresh eyes and a new perspective.
Whether you are writing for traditional media or in the digital space, using these tips can elevate your writing on all platforms.