It seems like everyone has a blog these days. From friends and family to coffee shops and restaurants, blogs are the new window into the soul — or at least they help us express thoughts that are too long for Facebook or Twitter.
When it comes to blog posts, quality always beats quantity. As content expert Ann Handley says, “We are all capable of producing good writing. Or, at least, better writing.”
You probably can’t have a proofreader fix every blog post you publish. But you can make your editing process more professional and fail-safe.
Many editing errors are predictable and preventable — so here’s a seven-point editing checklist you can follow every time you publish. These tips work whether you're writing a food blog, a travelogue, a business blog, or anything else.
1. Think links.
Links fall into two categories: supporting your content with additional information, and referring readers related posts on your own blog. Links to relevant content from other sources add credibility, while links to relevant proprietary content aid those who want to dive in deeper on a topic. Always look for opportunities where more links might be helpful, but don’t add links just for the sake of it.
2. Do a title check.
After a while, our eyes get used to the way a group of words looks, and we stop seeing errors. Your blog post title is one of the most, if not the most, important aspects of your piece, so make sure the title is error-free. Common errors in headlines include typos and errant capitalization. See this GrammarGirl article on capitalizing titles.
3. Prioritize punctuation.
Stop looking at words for a minute and focus only on punctuation. Look for emerging patterns. Do you see too many exclamation points? Are your commas out of control? Personally, I always do a special check for em dashes, as I’ve noticed that I am sometimes too em-dash-generous. The right punctuation can take your post from a-OK to perfectly punchy.
4. Assess paragraph spacing.
Sometimes when we’re writing in a flood of great ideas, we put too few paragraph breaks — or too many. Consider whether your paragraph spacing is making it easier or more difficult to read your post. Another check that falls in this category: bulleted lists. Could you space out a long sentence with a few nice bullets instead?
5. Vary sentence structure.
Disconnect yourself from the meaning of your sentences and just look at their overall structure and length. It’s boring to read identically structured sentences. Mix them up! Some should be longer, some should be shorter; the variety is what makes reading interesting.
6. Refine images and illustrations.
Almost every blog post benefits from appropriate imagery. Images can serve a number of purposes: illustrate how something is done, generate excitement about a product or activity, create or express a feeling, and show instead of tell. Take a look back and make sure you didn’t miss a great opportunity for the perfect image. And, of course, always give credit where due if the image isn’t yours.
7. Ask an outsider.
When time permits, ask someone else for their opinion on your post. After all, even the best writers have an editor. Outside reviewers can alert writers of blind spots in grammar or meaning, and they can give great suggestions when something just isn’t making sense. If you’re writing for a business, consider teaming up with someone else to become editing partners. Then you can swap editing duties anytime either of you writes something new.
Editing should comprise at least 50% of your writing process. Think of writing as the prep work that goes into creating a great meal — and editing as the cooking or baking that makes those raw ingredients into something delectable.
This post was originally published on Salesforce's Medium account.