“The man who invented autocorrect just passed away, may he roast in piss.” This rather shocking but hilarious little statement was viral (at least in my digital neck of the woods) not so long ago.
I am in my late thirties now so I have experienced first-hand all the frustration that came with struggling to write a text message that didn’t exceed the character limit because it was really pricey to send multiple texts and only one letter or punctuation sign could get you in that situation.
Yet there were times when I would have gladly paid substantially for someone to simply remove the dreaded predictive spelling so I can actually say what I needed – I know to the younger generation I might sound like an idiot but it really was not that simple back in the day. Mobile phones have only recently become truly intuitive. As a result, there were times when after the struggle of sending a short message I ended up sending one or several corrections because the meaning was wrong or just sounded nuts due to the change in wording.
You don’t want that in your online lessons, on your blog posts or in any marketing materials you create to promote your business online. So, proofread!
Check for errors
The first and most important reason for proofreading everything you create online is that in order to look and sound truly professional, all content must be spelled right and have the correct syntax. You may have the greatest content and convey very insightful ideas, but if in the end most of the comments you’ll get will be about the mistakes that have slipped into the text, your work will be in vain.
It’s important to keep in mind that simply running the automated spell-check is not nearly enough as some words may be spelled correctly but not the ones you intended to put in that sentence.
It’s advisable, after you have read the text a couple of times, to ask somebody else to look over it as you may still overlook something due to the fact that you know so well what you wanted to say that you are convinced that’s what it actually says.
Check the facts
If you chose to prove some of your points by using stories that are widely known and could help get a better understanding, it’s crucial you look into them again before posting to make sure that what you wrote is indeed what happened. Especially in the case of notorious happenings, word of mouth tends to blow things out of proportions and the facts can become heavily distorted in the common imagination.
It’s better to be accurate than in tune with the general opinion because it takes only one reader to call you on bending the truth to get attention, but not the kind you were hoping for.
So, make sure what you say is bullet-proof as far as the facts are concerned and if you quote do so from trustworthy sources not shady internet pages. The sites you associate with will say just as much about you as the content you post.
Check for context
If you are writing about adult learning and self-development you shouldn’t sound like a rebellious teenager or like a stuffy old-school college professor. Your learning materials should be appropriate for your audience and they will say a lot about you as an individual. Your personality gets reflected in the way you write and that is a good thing as people will find it easier to relate and follow.
Once it’s online, your content can literally reach anyone, not just ‘your people’ so it is good to re-read with a critical eye and remove everything that you wouldn’t want your former teachers to see, for example.
Also, since the online environment is a very inclusive one, cultural humor might not be the best idea as it could be lost on many subscribers. Political correctness is also of the utmost importance unless your aim is to create a wave of public discontent.
Check for readability
Personally, I am a big fan of Proust’s writing. I find stream of consciousness to be a very intimate way of creating literature. However, the French author was “In Search of Lost Time” and didn’t mind that he was losing some more doing this, while today’s internet users really don’t have minutes to spare.
So, you should cut the rambling and keep it as short and concise as possible. If you feel all paragraphs are relevant and can’t really cut anything without losing substance, you might consider breaking the blog post into several units – just as you would do with learning material in order to increase accessibility.
There’s a bigger chance people will take the time (albeit on separate occasions) to read several posts than stay long enough to go through a long one. If it’s deemed too long, you might find some “TL:DR” replies. For those not familiar with internet slang that’s “Too Long; Didn’t Read”. The fact that there is an acronym, so people don’t have to type all five words gives you an idea about the level or hurry your readers are in. Make sure you constantly take that into consideration.
To sum it all up before you, my dear reader, find this one to be tediously long, proofreading is about more than making sure the words are spelled as Mr. Webster himself would have handwritten them centuries ago. You also must be mindful of context, readability and accuracy.
Raluca Cristescu has over ten years of experience in corporate training, focused mainly on soft skills for customer service and direct sales.