You know you need to check your writing before publishing an article, a blog post, or a book.
But there is much more involved in checking your writing than doing a quick grammar and spelling check.
You have to be sure that your text reads well, covers all the essential points, and that it will look great.
After you publish something new, you always want to attract new readers, so make sure you get it right.
10 Points to check your writing
Almost every writer today uses Grammarly or a similar writing checker.
These tools make it easy to do a grammar, spelling, and punctuation check for any text.
But even if you pass the test on all these fronts, it doesn’t mean that you wrote a fantastic piece of writing.
Yes, you need to correct your writing to eliminate typos and grammatical errors.
But the substance, style, and look of your writing are of much higher value because these elements attract readers.
You only have a few seconds to convince a reader that what you wrote is worth reading.
So you need to make it instantly appealing with a great headline or title and perhaps an image.
Then ensure that your opening few words get to the point.
Before you publish your next article, think about the following ten points to help you check your writing.
If you can tick every item in the list, you will have a much better chance of finding and engaging with new readers.
1. Did you cover everything?
No matter what your topic is, it’s easy to miss one or two essential elements.
If you are writing about buying a Corvette, perhaps you didn’t mention insurance, the cost of spare parts, or clubs you can join.
The easiest way to check is to search for high-ranking articles on your topic.
You are not going to copy, of course. But by quickly scan reading three or four articles, you can make a list of the topic points you might have missed covering.
I always do this before I start writing a new piece. It’s the quickest way to make an outline list of the key points I need to cover in a new article.
2. Change the passive to active voice
Most grammar checkers will warn you about passive sentences in your writing, and one of the best is the Hemingway editor.
You can’t always replace every occurrence. But it’s always good practice to change as many passive sentences as you can to active voice.
It’s much better to say Sam built the house in 1971 than the house was built in 1971.
Getting into the habit of changing passive to active voice is an essential writing skill.
3. Check for weak verbs
If you can, try to find better strong verbs to replace weak ones.
A good example is the verb to run. You could replace it with sprinted, raced, darted, or rushed.
Another weak verb is to get. It’s usually very easy to replace it with obtain, fetch, become or buy.
4. Remove filler words and phrases
Filler words say nothing.
You can’t remove them all, but use them in small doses.
Some of the most common filler words and phrases include:
For what it’s worth
At the end of the day
Sometimes we use these words by habit. But if you are aware of them, you can reduce your use considerably.
5. Watch out for cliches
Like filler words, cliches tend to say very little and add no real value to your writing.
Try to find better ways to communicate your point.
Some typical cliches include:
What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger
Kiss and make up
Ignorance is bliss
You can’t judge a book by its cover
You can’t please everyone
It’s always better to look for ways to make your point in your own words.
6. Check your formatting
You can ruin a great piece of writing with poor formatting.
Always look to make your text as readable as possible and pleasing to a reader’s eye.
Think about your font color and size and any background you might have. But generally, dark gray text on a white or pale background usually works well for screen reading.
Also, check your paragraphs and make sure they are not huge blocks of text.
The simple rule of formatting is to make it look great.
7. Proofread carefully
Never take shortcuts when you start the proofreading stage.
If you can, leave your text until the next day before your start, so your mind is fresh and alert.
And once is never enough. You should proofread your text at least three times before you publish it.
Even better is to ask someone to help you. A new pair of eyes is always well worthwhile for proofreading.
8. Select and optimize your images
Be selective when you want to include images in an article or blog post.
Don’t add them unless they bring extra value to your piece.
You can always find free stock photos and images. But if you can use original photos, graphs, or infographics, it’s a much better choice.
Finally, make sure you optimize your images so they are as small as possible and will load quickly.
9. Edit for SEO
When you are writing an article to publish online, you can help it with some basic search engine optimization (SEO) elements.
a. Use your keyword phrase in your title and the first paragraph.
b. Include your keyword phrase a couple of times in your text.
c. Add alt text tags to your images.
d. Include a couple of outbound links
e. Include internal links if you are publishing on your blog.
You don’t need to be an expert, but a little SEO knowledge can help your articles rank better on search engines.
10. Check your facts
Never rely on your memory for facts you include in your text.
Always double-check and make sure what you say is accurate and correct.
When you are not 100% sure, search online to find reliable sources that can verify your facts.
When you check your writing, you are trying to include improvements to make it more appealing to readers.
Writing articles or a book is hard work, yet the real work begins when you start checking.
Simple writing mistakes are easy to fix. But thinking about your reader and whether your writing will interest them is not so easy.
You need to analyze every element of your text from a reader’s perspective.
Does it inform them fully? Is it easy to read? Does it look appealing? Am I talking to or at the reader? What point of view am I using?
When you are asking yourself these types of questions, you know that you are taking the right approach when you start checking your writing.