Here are 10 things (other than spelling and grammar) you should be looking out for when proofreading your work:
1) Fonts and font size
Are all your headings the same size and font? If you’ve copied and pasted text from another document, is the text the same size and font on the new document or has some Times New Roman snuck in amongst your Calibri? If you’re using Microsoft Word, a quick way to remove rogue fonts is to use the format painter.
Check that all your paragraphs have the same amount of space between them. If you’re indenting your paragraphs, is the indent the same size across them all? Have you accidentally pressed the space bar twice between words?
3) Bullet points
If you’ve used bullet points in your copy, check they all line up and you’ve used the same style of bullet point throughout. Decide on whether you’re going to use full stops after each point, only at the end of the bullet list, or not at all.
4) Inclusion of everything promised
It sounds obvious, but if you’re writing a listicle and you’ve promised ‘7 ways to do something’, make sure you’ve included 7 points. If you’ve written ‘See appendix’, ensure you’ve added the appendix.
And then there’s the classic, forgetting to attach the attachment to an email. Checking you’ve included everything you promised will save you time (and potential embarrassment) in the long-run.
5) Numbers in a list
If you’re using a list of numbers, check all the numbers are in the correct order and you’ve not missed any out. When you’re editing your copy and moving things around, it’s easy to move a point but forget to change the order of the numbers too.
Consistency is the key to a professional-looking document. If you’ve used dates in your work, are they all presented in the same format, e.g. 23rd November or 23rd November? Are you writing the word ‘And’ or using an ampersand? Have you used capitals for job titles or groups consistently, e.g. Creative department or creative department?
7) Photos and diagrams
If there’s supposed to be a photo or a diagram with your text, have you included it? Does the photo or diagram show what the text says it shows? Is the photo positioned in the right place? Have you put it close to where it’s mentioned in the copy for easy reference?
If you’re justifying your text, check you’ve applied it to the whole document consistently. This is particularly important if you’re printing the document as the jagged edges of left aligned paragraphs will be more obvious.
9) Page contents
Are your pages in the correct order? It may be tedious to check through the contents page or entire index of your catalogue or brochure, but it’s important for your customers that the page numbers listed take them to the content they’re after.
If your content is digital, check that all your hyperlinks work. Broken links can annoy your website visitors and make them head straight to your competitor’s site. Ensure your links make it easy for your customers to take the action you want them to take.
If, after reading this, proofreading your own work sounds like way too much effort, hand it over to me to proofread and edit. I’ll make sure your copy looks professional and you don’t lose custom over something as small as a broken hyperlink.