Competing with the other 6 million blog posts published every day may seem like a never-ending content battle, but there’s a secret weapon to delivering the knockout punch: proofreading and editing.
Many business teams neglect this step because they don’t have a scalable process in place. However, there are steps that you and your team can take right now to make proofreading and editing a seamless part of your content creation process.
Why Proofreading and Editing?
Copywriting might seem like the most important part of content creation. However, copywriting alone doesn’t guarantee quality content. It’s only one part of the process. If your team is putting out a lot of content, or if that’s their goal, they need a consistent and reliable process to ensure that they don’t sacrifice quality for quantity.
Proofreading and editing are the unsung heroes of quality content. They can save a piece of error-ridden content from being published and damaging a company’s reputation, or at the very least, save them from embarrassment. What would you think if a reputable business published content filled with typos?
Here are six steps to implementing best proofreading practices into your content creation process.
6 Best Proofreading Practices for Businesses
1. Make It a Team Effort
The more eyes on your content before it’s published, the better. This is especially true if the demands on your time increase. It’s easy to overlook small errors.
Putting a team together will take time, but the uptick in efficiency and quality of your content will make it worth the effort. Your content team might include writers, proofreaders, editors, and reviewers.
If you don’t already have a great team of editors for this process, here’s a quick guide.
Having the right team in place will enhance your workflow. Each member of the team will tackle different parts of the editing process, and each piece of content will be polished at a granular level, reviewed for tone and flow issues, and fine-tuned for message before approval and publication.
Once your team is in place, you’ll need to make sure that everyone is on the same page and your strategy is clear.
Make sure each member of the team understands their role in the process. For example, if a proofreader believes that it’s their job to format a piece of content, but there’s a dedicated person in charge of formatting later in the process, the rest of the project could be delayed by hours, if not days.
2. Define Your Strategy
Getting your team on the same page to create flawless content starts with a defined strategy. Coming up with a strategy can be tricky, but there are two must-have components that will help bring it all together.
The first component of the strategy is a style guide. Style guides provide consistency with voice, style, formatting, and terminology. Brands need to be consistent in their message, and by using a style guide, editors and proofreaders will know how to make revisions that are in line with that message.
Want to learn more about why your team needs a style guide and how to create one? Find out here.
The second component is having a routine workflow. Defining how each proofreader is assigned content, how they move the content forward in the process, how it’s reviewed, and when it’s approved are musts for an efficient strategy. Communication is vital in making this work.
A project management tool, such as Airtable, will allow your team to share updates in real time, communicate ideas, and ask questions. It also creates a visual representation of the workflow that allows each team member to see the progress of each piece.
Need more ideas on how to define your strategy? Here are four tips for a productive editorial process.
3. Divide and Conquer
One of the benefits of having a team strategy for proofreading and editing is that the workload can be divided up and assigned to team members who specialize in different things. By specializing, the proofreader or editor can focus on fine-tuning their part of the process. This will speed up the workflow, prevent oversights, and enhance the quality of the content.
You can be creative in how you divide things up. One of the best ways to divide the work up is by layering the edits and assigning an editor to each layer (e.g., content editing, line editing, structural editing, and proofreading). If your team produces long-form content, you can even divide the content itself into sections.
Give your proofreaders and editors tips to help with each layer of editing. For example, using the Read Aloud feature in Microsoft Word can help with pinpointing any awkward phrasing, repetitive words, and flow issues.
4. Provide Individual Proofreading Best Practices
Even the best editors welcome advice on how to improve their craft. Improving each team member’s proofreading ability takes the quality of your content to another level.
It’s especially important to have some written guidance and training if the editors on your team are new to the proofreading process. Depending on their experience, many of them may have relied on grammar and spell check features to catch errors.
Some individual proofreading tips include taking breaks or letting the content sit overnight, reading the content backwards, watching out for homophones, reading out loud, zooming out to check formatting, and printing a hard copy.
Providing proofreading best practices for your team could be as simple as sharing a Google Doc. Even a “most common errors” list can strengthen the quality of your editing team’s work.
5. Control the Quality
Quality keeps content readers coming back for more, while quantity only works if readers find value in what they’re reading. How do you control the quality? Having dedicated reviewers as part of your editing team ensures that the content is error-free and consistent with your brand prior to publication.
The best reviewers know every detail of the style guide and are often involved in the final approval process. It’s a good idea to have your most thorough editors move into a reviewer role.
Setting clear expectations for every member of the team also helps to control quality. If the team knows what’s required of them before even starting to work on a piece of content, they’ll work more efficiently from the start.
Here are eight steps to establish a quality control process for your editing team.
Providing detailed feedback will supercharge the quality of future work tremendously. Great reviewers provide editors and proofreaders with examples of where they got things right and where they can improve.
6. Review and Refine
Like any process, there’s always room for improvement. Make sure to review and assess your editing and proofreading strategy on a regular basis. This will allow you to uncover any bottlenecks and troubleshoot any quality control issues.
Part of evaluating your process should involve asking for feedback. Not only will the editors and proofreaders feel like valued team members, but their feedback is invaluable when determining which minor details in the process may be working well or what needs to be addressed.
Once you’ve obtained feedback, you can begin to refine your team’s proofreading process accordingly.
Schedule bi-weekly, monthly, or quarterly meetings with your editing team. This is a good way to gather feedback and gage the team’s feelings on how the strategy is working for them.
Using a team-based approach facilitates an efficient and effective strategy to produce scaled content without sacrificing quality. By setting expectations and streamlining your workflow, your team can give the attention that’s needed to each part of the process.
As a specialist, each editor can focus on fine-tuning content without creating bottlenecks, and a review team will ensure that each piece of content is flawless prior to publication.
Need More Help?
Many of our clients have mastered this process but quickly outgrew it. They can’t achieve economies of scale. That’s where Proofed comes in. We provide businesses with their own, dedicated editorial teams that can scale seamlessly with their growth. These proofreading best practices are our baseline.
Learn more about how Proofed can help your business here.