Proofreading and editing are two of the most important steps in content production, and this is never truer than when creating e-learning courses. These crucial stages ensure that your content is clear, concise, and error-free, making your course more effective for your learners and more profitable for you. In this article, we’ll take you through our top 10 tips for proofreading and editing e-learning courses to help you create top-quality content.
We know we talk about the importance of proofreading and editing a lot, but let us tell you exactly why! As an e-learning content company, people will not only look to you as the experts on the topic in question, but they will also expect you to have a sound (and some would say flawless) grasp of the language you are writing in. As such, any mistakes, whether factual or grammatical, will massively impact your reputation. And with e-learning set to dominate in 2023, you can’t afford to skimp on proofreading and editing!
But there are other benefits, too. For the reader, it enables them to focus on the course content, improve their understanding of your key messages, succeed in their learning goals, and promote customer satisfaction. For you, there will be wider benefits for your company; a smooth proofreading and editing process will increase your production speed while costs and frustration.
Before you even begin to write, you should have created buyer or learner personas to help you design your course so that it’s as relevant as possible to your learners. As you go through the design process, you should continually ensure that your course is suitable for these particular customers. The language should match the target demographic; for example, if you’re writing a course for children, you will need to make sure you use language that is appropriate for that age group.
For adults, however, don’t use overly simplistic language. Keeping your learners in mind while you’re writing, editing, and proofreading will help you to design a course that appeals to your customers.
Consistency is one of the most important aspects of editing and proofreading, but when you have a large team creating content, it’s easy for inconsistencies to slip through the net.
Having a style guide will provide your creators, editors, and proofreaders with guidance about your preferred punctuation conventions, spelling, and word choice. You can simplify how you would like the content to be structured and formatted. Although it might take some time to put together, a style guide will make your life much easier by saving you time and reducing inconsistencies.
Need help creating a style guide? Check out this guide!
One of the most hotly debated topics in the editing world is the use of a serial comma; it’s something that pretty much every editor has a strong opinion about! A serial comma is the final comma in a list of three or more items before the final coordinating conjunction and provides clarity to the reader. Whether you use a serial comma or not depends on which dialect you’re using, as well as the style guide. Typically, UK and Australian English don’t use the serial comma unless required for clarity, while US English uses it in all cases. Similarly, the Chicago Manual of Style uses serial commas, but the Associated Press style guide doesn’t unless required for clarity.
If you decide to create your own style guide, you can choose whether you want to use serial commas but make sure you employ them consistently throughout the course. You can learn more about serial commas here.
As you scale your e-learning content, you will need to create an editing process, especially if you’re growing your team. In this process, you will need to decide who does what and when. The typical order of content creation is to create, edit, and then proofread.
Editing typically involves more structural changes and rewriting, while ideally, there should be only minimal changes, such as correcting typos and punctuation errors, at the proofreading stage. You could have a dedicated team for each step, or you could create a system where anyone can take work from any stage. As with anything else, you might need to experiment to see what works for you.
Content creation rarely runs smoothly all the time, and it’s unrealistic to expect that it will. When creating a workflow, perhaps think about how you can address bottlenecks when they arise. It’s unlikely that you will be able to predict every issue that could possibly come up, but if you have a plan for the most common problems, you can save yourself time and frustration. The most likely bottleneck will be having too much work at any one stage of the process (i.e., a lot of work needing editing and not enough editors). This is where point seven becomes really important!
Read more about overcoming your content bottlenecks here.
While deadlines are almost universally hated by editors, they are an absolutely vital part of content creation, otherwise, nothing would get done on time! Deadlines help your team stay focused on the task at hand, as well as prompt you to plan your content and avoid content bottlenecks. However, being too strict or tight with your deadlines can cause your staff unnecessary stress, which will ultimately impact the quality and quantity of your course material.
Give yourself as much time as you can for the entire process and if possible, allow your team some deadline flexibility so that they can create great content.
Staying organized is massively helpful in all aspects of life, especially when you’re managing large teams. Using a content creation calendar can help you keep track of all your content and team members. Within this, you can set deadlines for each stage of the process to make sure your team is placed appropriately to deal with the volume of work.
There are specific apps and websites that you can use to create content calendars, or you can go low-tech and use pen and paper (this is less useful if you have a large team because it’s harder to share with your team and make changes). Try different systems and see what works best for you.
Before you publish any content, it’s imperative that you check that all the information is accurate and up to date. Your course material may include references, and you will undoubtedly have notes or an outline to which you can refer back to check the accuracy of your content. This may be a time-consuming process, but we can guarantee that taking these steps before publication will save you time, money, frustration, and possibly even your reputation; publishing incorrect information could destroy your status as an e-learning content creator and drive learners away.
Once you have an editing and reviewing process, you will need to review it regularly to make sure you’re working in the most efficient way possible. This is your opportunity to see what works and change what doesn’t. Sometimes, it’s a good idea to have someone who’s not involved in the process look at its strengths and weaknesses; we’re often so attached to our own creations that we can’t see their flaws (which is also a reason why having others write, edit, and proofread content is a good idea).
Look for repeated bottlenecks in your process and decide how best to fix these issues, but be careful not to change too much at once because then you might not be able to tell what’s making the difference. Change one thing at a time and then observe whether it works or not before you change anything else. Remember, content creation is more like a marathon than a sprint!
In this article, we’ve outlined suggestions for approaching the editing and proofreading of your e-learning content. Following these tips will help you create top-quality, relevant content for your learners. We’ve also talked about the importance of editing and proofreading. Our final tip is that if you don’t have the capacity to undertake the editing and proofreading yourself, or just want a helping hand, then reach out to an editing agency. Outsourcing the process to an agency like Proofed has many benefits, particularly reducing your team’s workflow, improving the grammatical accuracy of your content, and speeding up your content production process.
If you decide to outsource your editorial work, be aware of these challenges.
Proofed collaborates with global Ivy League universities and e-learning content producers to create compelling, quality content for global learners. Working according to your style guide, our fully managed team of editors will diligently work to make sure your content is the best it can be, leaving you free to do what you do best. When you’re ready to see what Proofed can do for your courses, schedule a call with us.
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