A Writing Must-have: Proofreading Checklist

Even the best content can be spoiled by poor punctuation, grammar and typos. Plus, these issues can impact how your reader views and values your brand or company. As you write press releases, blogs, bylines and web copy, be sure to use our proofreading checklist for a professional and polished final product.

Proofread for AP Style using the most up-to-date guidelines. The Associated Press releases an updated guide every year, and keeps the latest changes listed on their website. Here are a few entries that impact most of our writing today:

  • Commas: If a comma does not help make clear what is being said, it should not be there. If omitting a comma could lead to confusion or misinterpretation, then use the comma

  • Hyphens: Hyphens are used to avoid ambiguity or to form a single idea from two or more words. They are optional in most cases, but the fewer used the better. Rule of thumb: only use them when not using them causes confusion

  • Titles: Capitalize professional titles when they appear immediately before the name. If used after the name, they are lowercase

  • Numerals: Spell out one through nine. Use figures for 10 or above

  • Percents: Use the percent symbol (%) when discussing percentages unless the statistic starts a sentence, then spell out the number and word percent

Avoid repetition. Restating ideas doesn’t reinforce them -- instead it makes content seem unorganized and confusing.

Verify your facts. Double-check spelling, capitalization and punctuation for names, titles, companies and products (it’s Dropbox, not DropBox).

Use citations. Give credit to others where credit is due, whether by end notes or hyperlinks. When hyperlinking, be sure your links work and that they take you to the right place!

Check for consistent formatting. While seemingly small, sloppy formatting can be distracting and can be frustrating to the reader. This includes things like font style, size and color, spacing, and things like periods vs. no periods at the end of sentences in a bulleted list.

Leave out unnecessary words. Don’t waste space with “in order to” when you could just say “to.” It makes sentences feel clunky and concepts seem convoluted.

Look out for double words. One of the hardest typos to catch is the double word. Be sure to read carefully while proofreading and enable your writing program’s proofreading tool to catch these types of errors.

Be sure to save this checklist and keep it on hand when writing to avoid these common mistakes!