Proofreading Practice (Or How To Avoid Those Embarrassing Writing Errors)

by Dean Evans

Hornsey Road

Poorly written or edited copy will adversely affect how people view your content. Original copy can be undermined by poor spelling, wayward grammar and inconsistent style elements.

Put it this way: mistakes like these can seriously knock any professionalism you’re trying to project and quickly extinguish any authority that you’ve built.

Proofreading practice makes perfect…

Copy editing and proofreading are important (often overlooked) steps in the publishing process. Each has its own role.

Copy editing is about checking and improving the content, looking at the sentence structure, rewriting and applying good web writing guidelines where necessary. It’s where you’ll make the most changes.

Proofreading (aka ‘proofing’) is a little more basic. It’s about checking for spelling, punctuation, capitalisation, tense and tone errors. Not to mention, double-checking names, links and facts to ensure they are correct.

Proofreading practice

We can proofread, edit and check your articles, websites and general copy for you. Or you can do it yourself. Here are The Good Content Company’s tips for checking your content. Consider it proofreading practice…

  • You’ll make amends as you proofread, so run a spell check at the end
  • Read through and manually check your spelling, punctuation and grammar
  • Shorten long sentences and bulky paragraphs so that they’re easier to read
  • Best practice proofreading encourages you to check for words that sound the same, such as: ‘their’, ‘there’ and ‘they’re'; ‘compleat’ and ‘complete’
  • Check apostrophes, primarily ‘its’ and ‘it’s’. ‘DVD’s’ as a plural is wrong, ‘DVDs’ is right, and so on
  • Check the spelling of companies, products and the names of people and places
  • Check your facts. Again. Use the internet to look up anything that you are unsure of. Use a reputable site, preferably more than one to cross-reference. Don’t just put your faith into Wikipedia.
  • Check that all of your links work and that email addresses are correct
  • Ask yourself: “Is the tone consistent throughout?” and “Is the tense consistent throughout?”
  • Check for inconsistencies in terms of capitalisation, spelling and hyphenation. I.e. you capped up the first letter of ‘Internet’ in one paragraph, but wrote ‘internet’ (with a small ‘i’) in another
  • Eliminate pesky double spaces
  • Finally, run that spellcheck in order to pick up any glaring errors that you’ve missed

It often helps to print an article out so you can check it on paper rather than onscreen. You can also try reading it aloud to get a feel for the pacing and the rhythm of the words, sentences and the general flow.

Feel ready to try your error-spotting skills? Try our proofreading test.

Did we mention that we can do your proofreading for you? Just send us an email

Creative Commons License photo credit: Nicobobinus

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Peerless June 28, 2011 at 10:26 am

Wonderful explanation of facts available here.


Lucijane August 22, 2012 at 8:16 pm

Impressed by your website and tips, etc. In the bulleted points at the end of the Proofreading practice section, I believe you meant to write “…i.e. you capped up the word ‘Internet’… rather than “…l.e. you capped up the word…”


Dean Evans August 23, 2012 at 9:42 am

@ Lucijane: Good spot. Thanks. I meant to say “you capped up the first letter of ‘Internet’ in one paragraph…” It’s duly (and humbly) fixed.


Tom Slaiter January 4, 2013 at 3:29 pm

Oh, that picture is just awful! Haha great post and I like the practice section!

Thanks for the post :-)


Antonio Cabiero September 17, 2014 at 1:05 am

Thank you for the tips you have provided that will greatly benefit me in my communication, messaging, and writing skills this article will come in handy in the future. One of the tips that I find to be very important is checking for words that sounds the same. It is too common that I see misused words such as they’re, their, and there. I don’t know if people are just too lazy to spell it out the correct way or if they really just don’t know. I also find reading your work out loud to be very helpful to figure out the tone or rhythm.


Kevin Convery January 12, 2015 at 12:39 am

Pardon, but I disagree with your definitions of the roles of the copy editor and the proofreader.

A copy editor does everything you said, plus correcting spelling, grammar, etc.

A proofreader compares the marked-up manuscript with the corrected typesetting, to make sure all corrections were made and no new mistakes were introduced.


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