If you do any amount of writing at your job, then this article is for you. Whether you write emails to clients or reports to document projects, it’s important to do a final check before hitting Send or Print. There is nothing more horrifying than spotting a glaring error right after you have sent off an important email or file.
Writers should use these quick tips for checking that their writing looks polished before sharing their work with their audience.
Tip 1: Read your work in a new way
After you have finished your writing task and typed your last period (or signed off with your name), don’t press send yet. Save your work and take a break, even if it’s for a few minutes.
When you return, check over your work with fresh eyes. One of the best ways to do this is to read your writing out loud. It’s a great way to realize if a sentence is awkwardly phrased if you trip over your own words. Or, if you nearly pass out while reading, it’s a hint that you may need more commas or shorter sentences.
Another way to read your writing with fresh eyes is to print out what you’ve written or change the type style or font size. Just changing the appearance of your writing can help you to notice typos or grammar mistakes that you didn’t see before.
Yet another suggestion for checking your work is to run your grammar check or spell check program if you have one. Some writers use the Read Aloud feature if they are using Word. Hearing another voice read your work aloud can help you find errors you might not have noticed if you only review it silently.
- Read your writing aloud
- Print out your writing or change the presentation of your writing
- Run a spell check or grammar check program
Tip 2: Create a checklist to follow
A great habit is creating your own checklist to refer to whenever you write something that will be shared with an important audience, such as your boss, client, or customers.
Do you often get two words mixed up, such as “cite” and “site”? Do you often forget the rules for using commas, or whether a technical term in your industry should be capitalized or spelt a certain way? If you find yourself making the same mistakes over and over again, create a checklist of common errors or confusing writing points. Then make a habit of going through this checklist before you share your writing assignment with your audience.
Another tip is to keep templates of the types of writing that you do most often. Following the template for an email, report, or presentation saves time and helps you to learn that particular style of writing.
This repetition creates a habit. Eventually, you will internalize this checklist when you keep repeating it to yourself. It’s one of the best ways to learn how to spell a word, learn a grammar rule, or familiarize yourself with how something is written in your industry or company.
- Create a checklist
- Use templates
- Create a habit
Tip 3: Commit 1 to 5 minutes a day to learning something new
Each day, commit one to five minutes a day minimum to learning a new writing tip: One minute if you don’t do much writing at work. Five minutes or more if you do a lot of writing daily.
These quick tips are easily digestible lessons that will help improve your writing over time. No matter if you’re a novice or pro at writing, this tip still applies.
Refresh your grammar and punctuation rules. Learn how to spell a challenging word correctly. Or improve your plain language or technical writing skills. Even a minute a day, each workday, can add up to a significant amount of time over a year.
Your lessons can come from grammar and writing books, YouTube videos about writing, a dictionary, or writing style guides specific to your company. Many resources are out there for you to learn from.
- Commit a specific amount of time to improve your writing daily
- Use different sources, from print to online
Before you hit the send or publish button after finishing a writing task, take a moment to check over your work. You could save yourself the embarrassment of sending an email with a blatant grammar mistake.
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