Pain-free Proofreading

It’s easy to produce professional text every time with these simple proofreading tips

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Everyone makes mistakes
 

We’ve all been there, (it’s normal) but ‘unforced errors’ can have a big impact on how professional you appear. I’m going to show you a few easy tricks to help you minimise errors and fool-proof your proof-reading.



Why Proofread?
 

Seems like a waste, right? You know you’re not bad at grammar, and you’ve run spellcheck, so surely you should be fine…

  • Spelling and grammatical errors make you look unprofessional and devalues your content
     
  • Typos can make readers switch off when they break their train of thought

  • Spellcheck misses things. All the time. Plus, spellcheck isn’t smart enough to work out you meant ‘too’, not ‘to’
     
  • And in a world where first impressions count, you want yours to be sharp, clever and refined

     

Now you know why, let’s look at how


No one really enjoys proofreading. By the time you’ve finished a document you generally just want to press send and move on, but taking the time to proofread is always a good decision.

 

So here are a few ways to make it easier:

  • Enlist help – find a willing friend/partner/fellow writer and trade for housework or reciprocal proofreading

  • Wait a while – 15 minutes, an hour, the next morning, a week. If it’s important then try to get some ‘distance’ from the text before reading it again

  • Budget time at the end to proofread – 5% of the time you spent writing will make a big difference and you won’t resent it if it’s routine

  • If it’s really, really important – go slow, read it aloud or print it out (or all three)
     
  • Always check the numbers – who hasn’t gotten their own phone number wrong? I did it just the other day…

 

A good trick is to do several passes, each one looking for a different kind of error:

  • Get rid of unnecessary words (see Rob’s tips for keeping it short)

  • Use spellcheck but don’t trust it blindly. Review each suggestion and look through manually for errors
     
  • Check your grammar if you’re unsure. Try using Google for simple issues and Oxford Dictionaries for reference
     
  • Once the words are right, and in the right place, check your formatting. Irregular changes in font, font size or spacing can be really noticeable
     
  • Keep reading until you can read it without changing anything, and once you’re sure it’s perfect do a quick final pass

 

Make proofreading a habit, it’s worth it.

 

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5 tips for writing a killer short description

Your ‘short description’ is your online first impression, so tell them what you do, how you do it and why

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Make the most of your 160 Characters

Chances are, if you’ve ever made a profile, page or social media account related to your art then you’ve had to enter a ‘short description’. They go by lots of different names, but basically they are one to two lines summaries of what you do and who you are.

These short descriptions are often underestimated in the rush to build your new page/account/blog, but they are actually one of the most important parts of your online presence. Once you’ve posted one it crops up everywhere – including in your google description for online searches – so take the time to get it right.

You can use around 20 words or two lines (160 characters including spaces) on most platforms, so keep it shorter than this and you avoid editing for each platform. Any longer and you’ll lose bits from the display, which can look unprofessional. Then, use the same description on all your pages and accounts, so save it as you would your CV.

 

Top tips for writing short bio’s

These tips will help you craft a compelling and informative ‘short description’ in no time:

 

  • Don’t go overboard, but make use of the space. A three-word summary (artist, quilter and dog-lover) might fit the criteria of ‘short description’, but it doesn’t help to create interest in your work
     
  • Confirm you are the person they’re looking for quickly. Don’t make them read through most of two lines before you tell them you quilt if that’s your main gig
     
  • Include important keywords. If you’re a minimalist mixed-media artist who only works with paper then make sure ‘paper’ and ‘minimalist’ are both in your bio. You’d be surprised how many people forget to mention their main medium or genre
     
  • Always proof-read, and if possible enlist a friend to review it as well. There is no rush and these descriptions are important – nothing makes you look more unprofessional than a typo or spelling error
     
  • Revisit and review often. As your practice evolves make sure you check your short description still does its job of describing what you do

   

Having trouble getting started?

There’s a hundred different ways you could write your ‘short description’, but I’ve got two easy ways to get started if you’re really stuck.

Method 1. Start with “Join me for…” or “Jane/John is…”
Give each a go and see where you end up. There’s nothing wrong with keeping it simple.

Method 2. String together descriptive words that sum you up, like “artist, sewer, quilter, wine lover, gym junkie, blogger…” and add a little humour if you’re feeling brave.

 

Good luck!

 

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