Spell-Check is not enough

Whether you’re writing a family history, documenting your research with a blog or creating a family newsletter, you are working as writer, copy editor and publisher. You, the copy editor, need to include plenty of time for proof-reading. Potential problems include:

  • Your spell-checker can do a lot, but it won’t flag you when you typed “fart” and you meant to type “raft”. And, it doesn’t know if you meant “their”, “there” or “they’re”.
  • In addition to typos and grammar issues, you need to insure all your links work – and that they go to the right web pages.
  • Even if you copy/pasted content from another document, check it too. It’s possible you didn’t pick up the first letter or that last period when you made your selection.
  • Speaking of copy/pasting content . . . When copying from a word processing application, you may be copying formatting commands that your blog/email program can’t understand. Often it will try to present that information as text and you may well end up with some very strange characters sprinkled throughout your content.
  • It’s a good idea to proof twice – first within whatever editor you are using and second using your blog’s preview function to see what it will look like once it’s published. This will help insure that images are sized and positioned correctly and that none of those strange characters are trashing your story.

One thing I have learned – the hard way – is that I tend to quickly scan text when I read. I have taken to reading my content aloud when I’m proof-reading since it forces me to look at each word. The dogs are fascinated with my elegant prose while my husband just shakes his head and moves on.

For more good tips on proof-reading content for digital publishing, take a look at the Yahoo! Style Guide. You can visit the online edition or you can keep a print or Kindle copy nearby at all times.

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