Hold On—Don’t Put That Copy to Bed Just Yet!
Call it what you will: line editing, reviewing, double checking or proofreading—whatever the name, just do it!
Proofreading your work one last time before you hit send or hand it off may make the difference between someone reading it or turning away in horror.
Whether it’s an email, proposal or collateral copy, before it leaves your hands, go through this quality checklist:
1. Check the tense. Are you writing in the past or present? Skipping back and forth can confuse readers. Consistency within the story is key.
2. Pay attention to singular and plural pronouns. Watch out for one person talking about their approach.
3. Look for inanimate vs. animate objects. Companies aren’t people. AT&T didn’t hold their annual meeting. AT&T held its annual meeting.
4. Look for typos. You can’t depend on spell check to catch everything. Look for real words that slip into the copy. You meant to write of but typed if. Then became the.
It helps to look at a printed version and read it out loud.
5. Reread the lede. Does the first sentence entice people to read the second? Does the anecdotal lede take too long to get to the point? Is it asking the right question?
6. Tighten. We could all afford to shed a few words. Cut the words that don’t really have to be there. Here’s how:
- Eliminate passive voice.
- Find the best part of the quote and eliminate the rest.
- Stay away from “There is” and “There are.”
- Eliminate hyperactive words, such as “very” and “extremely.”
Now you’re ready to put that copy to bed!