Web copy is a bit more forgiving than your typical offline formats. Blogs for example, are written in a very conversational style and will bend the rules of grammar daily. But bending the rules and setting them on fire are two different things. That’s why it’s important to proofread, proofread, proofread, and then proofread again.
While your spellcheck will catch misspelled words, the words that are, well, the wrong words but spelled correctly will sail right through. Go through your content time and time again to make sure that you haven’t made these common mistakes –
- you’re / your
You also want to take the time to make sure that you have your punctuation in line, and are following the rules when it comes to capitalization, etc. One great resource I recommend is the AP Stylebook – aka the journalist’s bible – which is available online and as close as the nearest library. The AP Stylebook is the ultimate guide for grammar, punctuation and principles and practices of reporting. It is considered a newspaper industry standard and is also used by broadcasters, magazines and public relations firms. It includes an A-to-Z listing of guides to capitalization, abbreviation, spelling, numerals and usage. The AP Stylebook has been a mainstay on my desk for years.
In addition to keeping the AP Stylebook handy, another important lesson I have learned in my years as a writer is that when it comes to proofreading and catching errors, it’s best to allow yourself some time to set it down and then go back to it in a few hours for another round, or if you have time, even pick it up in a few days. When you work on something long enough, it becomes right in your mind, and you can’t catch the errors like you can with a fresh set of eyes in a few hours or days. So if you don’t have someone you know, love, and trust to serve as an editing buddy, allow yourself some time to step away from your copy before proofreading.
Bottom line, it takes time to write your web copy – a LOT of time. Give that to yourself, and get busy!