5 ways to proofread your own copy

proofreadingCopywriting, whether for a website, blog or article, can be a painstaking business. Once the copywriting is complete, the hardest part begins: objectively reading, editing and proofing your own copy. So, how can you be sure that what you’ve got is the best it can be?


1) Take time out: No-one can throw themselves into a copywriting project, then flick the switch and read it objectively. You need time for the dust to settle and the opportunity to gain some distance from your writing. You’ll come back refreshed and able to take a more neutral stance.

2) Be ruthless: On re-reading your copy, if you spot anything extraneous, now is the time to remove it. It can be incredibly difficult to edit your own work, but the crunch question is: “Does this add anything new to my copy?” If the answer is no, it has to go.


3) Work in stages: Don’t expect to sit down for your first proofread and correct every tiny mistake. An initial sweep will cut out duplications, rework weaker sections and confirm the structure. Only once this is complete do you want to begin on hunting down typos and spelling mistakes.


4) Don’t trust the spellchecker: Tools such as the Microsoft Word spellchecker do not take semantics into account. For example, “business leaders discussed there views” is wrong, but the spellchecker won’t comment on it.


5) Ask for help: The simple truth is, you will never be the best editor of your own copywriting. Get a trusted colleague to look over the work. You’ll be amazed what a fresh pair of eyes can do for your copy.

3 thoughts on “5 ways to proofread your own copy

  • October 20, 2010 at 10:53

    Hi great tips , good common sense stuff. I was once told by a friend who worked in an agency that she read everything backwards to check for spelling mistakes. Being a clever species it seems our brains will read the first and last characters of a word and infil the middle – it helps us digest information quicker. To stop this you read the word backwards. It works for me

  • October 20, 2010 at 11:17

    “is the wrong”? Is someone not following their own instructions? 😉

  • October 21, 2010 at 09:36

    Well spotted James – and a good illustration of point 5!

    (Now corrected!)

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