How to Quality-Control, Proofread, and Edit Documents
Although often neglected, quality control is a step in the content creation process that saves you time and money and helps keep your brand’s reputation in check.
Quality control is a step where your editors – or whomever you delegate the task to – check the completed content to make sure it’s perfect.
This guide will tell you how to put your proofread and edited content through a quality control process, including actionable tips, five steps for establishing a quality control process, and key points.
Table of Contents
1. Have Content Objectives
Before you can quality-control your content, you must first define the content’s purpose. Each piece of content should have its own objectives. Your content objectives could be:
- Informing the reader about your products or services
- Improving your search engine rankings
- Building a rapport with your audience
- Getting social media shares
- Generating backlinks
Once you’ve defined your objectives, a step in your quality control process must check that those objectives are being met.
2. Read as the Intended Reader
Imagine you’re the content’s intended reader. Putting yourself in their shoes will show you if your content is hitting the mark for that audience.
An issue many companies miss is assuming knowledge from the reader. You know your products and services better than anyone else, but your readers might need the language to be simplified and free of industry jargon. And that’s just one example.
When quality-controlling your content, ask yourself if it answers the questions your audience might have, if it’s easy to understand and digest, and if it points them in the direction of other topics they might be interested in.
3. Make Sure It’s On-Brand
Any external communication from your business should be on-brand. When content is on-brand, it either features or doesn’t deviate from aspects of your brand, including:
- Tone of voice
- Formatting preferences
- Stylistic choices (e.g., capitalizing or not capitalizing the first letter of every word of a title)
Before you can quality control content for being on-brand, you need to define your brand. That’s why it’s so important to have a style guide (more on style guides below).
4. Check the Finer Details
Once you’ve ensured the content is correct, in line with the target audience, and on-brand, check the nitty gritty, like links, calls to action, and keywords.
If it’s content for the web, check that the links work and go to the right pages. If they don’t, fix that.
Calls to Action
The content you’re producing will have a purpose. Ask yourself what you want the reader to do after reading your content. That could be:
- Downloading a document
- Signing up for your mailing list
- Buying your product
- Clicking a link
Whatever the purpose is, there needs to be a solid call to action, telling them what you want them to do next.
If your team writes content for the web, you’ll likely want it to rank highly in search engines for relevant search terms. Check that your content features the correct keywords and phrases.
5. Create a Quality Control Checklist
Spend some time creating a checklist based on your style guide(s). It should include the most important checks. For example:
- Does the content feature the correct keywords?
- Does the content feature both internal and external links?
- Does the content feature images and an alt description?
- Is the content original?
- Is the content free of spelling and punctuation errors?
- Is the content clear and well organized?
- Does the content meet its objectives?
- Is the content properly formatted?
These checks should be simple enough to carry out, and online tools like semrush can help you with originality and plagiarism checks.
Establish a Quality Control Process in 4 Steps
A quality control process saves you time and money. If it’s too complex, it’s going to take you more time. With that in mind, prioritize the most important checks and ensure your quality control team is aware of them.
Create Style Guides
Having a style guide for your brand will make your quality control process endlessly easier. Style guides are documents that outline how your brand should be presented through its content, whether it be blog content, website copy, email marketing, fliers, posters, and more.
Make your style guide as detailed as possible. A detailed style guide doesn’t leave room for error. It should cover everything from brand voice and stylistic choices to grammar, formatting, and specific word choices.
Delegate Quality Control
The easiest way to introduce quality control to your content workflow is to delegate it to a certain person or people. If you have a large team, you might want to have several people in charge of quality control. For small content teams, only one or two people should be fine.
Ongoing training is important for three reasons. First, it keeps your editors’ knowledge of best practices fresh. Second, it’s a good opportunity to inform or remind your editors of any changes to your style guide. And third, it helps keep your editors engaged.
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