Website proofreading, explained

Other terms related to website proofreading: proofreader, spelling, grammar, copy proofing, website editing, website review, editing, copy editing, line editing.

Website proofreading is a final, thorough review of your website content. Website proofreading finds and corrects spelling, grammar, wording, or punctuation mistakes that might have been overlooked in the writing and editing process.

Your website is the digital representation of you, your business, or your organization, so it’s vital that your website copy is polished, professional, and correct if you want to build trust with your audience. Customers will be turned off by spelling, punctuation, or grammar mistakes because it shows a lack of attention to detail. This could be even more important if you work in a field like education, science, or other areas where accuracy is important.

If you’re about to launch your website, publishing a new page or article, or making changes to website copy, make sure your website is proofread thoroughly to find and correct mistakes.

The website proofreading process

You’ve already built your website structure and navigation, the copy has been written, and you’ve had your website content edited by a professional copy editor. You’re almost ready to hit the “Publish” button and take your website public on the Internet. Are you certain everything is perfect? If not, then a final proofread of your website is the best choice you can make.

It’s clear that you’ve put a lot of thought into what you want your website to say, so you don’t want careless errors causing a distraction and making you look bad. Many people make the mistake of thinking that proofreading is as simple as quickly scanning the page and fixing any errors that jump out at them. This type of unfocused approach, coupled with the fact that you just spent a lot of time writing and editing this document, can mean you miss errors on the page. Our brains work against us here, as it’s too easy to scan lines of text and make sense of the words regardless of small errors.

Here’s how to get around that problem.

Software spelling and grammar checkers are of limited use for website proofreading

Don’t rely solely on the spelling or grammar checkers built into your writing application. Spell checkers can help you catch typos and misspellings as you write, but they have a limited dictionary and may not alert you to mistakes when you’ve used the wrong word, but it’s still spelled correctly. For example, if you type “to” or “too” instead of “two” there’s a chance your spelling software won’t detect that problem, whereas a human proofreader would.

Grammar checkers can be even worse. They work with a set of predefined rules, and the English language has far too many variations, contexts, and idiosyncrasies for grammar software to identify everything correctly. This can result in “false negatives” or “false positives” where the software tells you grammar is incorrect when it isn’t, or it doesn’t identify a problem with grammar when there is a genuine issue.

You can use spelling and grammar checking software as a starting point to detect and fix obvious errors, and hire a professional website proofreader to ensure everything is absolutely correct.

Proofread your website copy for one type of error at a time

Each time you read through your website content, look for one specific type of error. For example, the first time through you might look for correct word usage, the second time you could focus on if commas, and the third time you’ll check for proper capitalization. This forces you to go through the copy repeatedly, meaning it’s more likely you’ll pick up on mistakes on each read.

Read your website content out loud

Reading your copy out loud is a powerful way to find mistakes. Reading every word forces you to slow down and look at each sentence individually. Website proofreading relies on a slow, thorough, and accurate reading of every word of your copy. That’s the only way to be sure that you’ve found and fixed all website content errors.

FAQs about website proofreading

Should I proofread my own website or hire a professional website proofreader?

Because of how our brains work, it can be difficult to see errors in website content that we’ve written ourselves. That’s why it's best if the person who wrote the website content and the person who proofreads the copy are different people. Additionally, website proofreading is a unique skill that requires slightly different training and discipline to website content writing.

What is the difference between a website copy editor and a website proofreader?

A website copy editor will help your online content flow from point to point, tell a story, connect with your audience, and sell your products or services. They will improve formatting, SEO, clarity, understanding, and cohesiveness and ensure your website content reads well. A website proofreader has a more focused task and looks for mistakes specific to spelling, word usage, grammar, and punctuation. A website copy editor will often identify and resolve mistakes as they’re editing copy, but they will not be as focused on this as a website proofreader.

How much do professional website proofreading services cost?

Costs will vary based on your choice to hire a freelancer or an agency, and the amount of expertise and experience the proofreader has. On average, you can expect to pay between $25 and $40 to have a thousand words proofread. You may also need to pay more if you want a faster turnaround, or if the website proofreader also provides website copy editing as part of their services.

What skills does it take to become a website proofreader?

Are you constantly pointing out the errors in spelling and grammar online or in published works? Your friends might roll their eyes at you, but these skills are very useful for developing a career in professional website proofreading. A degree in English, writing, or communications can also be very helpful. You will also need in-depth knowledge of spelling, grammar, and punctuation rules and usage. Although you’ll need to be very detail oriented, you also need to be great at communicating with clients, meeting deadlines, and providing a friendly and flexible approach.

Website copy editing, explained