Your copy needs to be spot on if you’re going to impress. There’s a lot of competition out there, and while customers won’t always reward you for getting it right, they will punish you for silly errors.
That includes spelling, grammar and punctuation mistakes. Since you don’t know who might be reading your words, it’s also important to fact-check and ensure your copy doesn’t break any laws.
That’s why I’m going to share my top 5 quick and easy proofing hacks to make sure you get it right.
Grammarly is an essential free tool to download. It helps flag up any common errors in spelling and missing words, and is clever at spotting punctuation and grammar errors, even teaching you as you go! It installs on your browser, in MS Word and on your PC for use on many different platforms. Grammarly also offers a year-long premium option, providing even more fixes and a plagiarism checker.
- Spell checks
While it’s OK to use MS Word spellchecker, don’t rely on it. It misses many an obvious mistake, and there are plenty of free spell checkers on the Web. My favourite is on Google Docs. How often does Google correct your search results and know what you want? Well, the Google Docs spell checker checks your words against the plethora of information on the Web. That makes it good at spotting errors in references, names, place names and even some international words and phrasing in addition to the usual spelling mistakes.
- Plagiarism software
Ensure you don’t fall foul of plagiarism laws by always running your copy through a plagiarism scanner. Grammarly premium offers this service or you can find a free one on the Web, such as this from Small SEO Tools. If you reuse product descriptions or content from the Web, make sure you rewrite it so it’s 100% unique. Otherwise, your search rankings will be lowered and you could even face a copyright suit. A surefire way to avoid this is to pay a copywriter to write your content for you. They’ll get it spot on and you get copy tailored to your business’ needs.
- Oxford Dictionaries Online
Consult a dictionary. Yes, some things you can’t get a robot to do! But don’t dismiss these humble reference tools. Oxford Dictionaries Online has a vast store of UK, US and world dictionaries to check spellings, pronunciation, similar words (synonyms) and encyclopaedic entries for notable persons and events. If you’re not sure how to spell a word, start typing and it will pop up. This site is especially useful for showing you how to use a word or phrase in a sentence and different spellings for US or UK English. Sites like Wikipedia are also invaluable, but always check their sources before citing ‘facts’.
Go pro and invest in PerfectIt – proofreading software that has an add-in built for MS Word. This software can run many tests on your work, including commonly misspelt words, inconsistencies in spelling and punctuation, formatting errors, and you can even specify your preferred spellings and punctuation use. Plus, once you’ve paid, it never expires! Even better, you can also try before you buy with a 30-day free trial.
It’s best practice to run your copy through as many proofing tools as you can, to ensure your content is up to scratch.
A supplement not a substitute
However, this is not only a timely procedure, it also isn’t 100% effective. Unfortunately, robots can’t catch everything and, in some cases, they even make suggestions that are incorrect – causing potential embarrassment.
These tools are a supplement not a substitute for accurate proofreading and need to be used with caution. You’d be surprised what kind of obvious errors slip through these filters, which can cost you big business.
Get perfect, tailor-made copy
So to get it right first time, it’s best to employ a proofreader or professional copywriter to ensure you don’t make these costly errors.
If you work with me, we can come up with the best solution for your needs. Perhaps you simply need another pair of eyes to spot any errors, you already have some content you’d like rewriting, or you want some copy creating from scratch.
Contact me today and we’ll get across everything you need to say in the best way possible.