Hitting publish on your new copy is a scary feeling. What if you’ve missed a typo? What if it doesn’t make sense? What if everyone laughs?
I’ve been through the exact same fears, which is why I created this checklist. I use it every time I publish or submit a piece of copy. Bookmark it, use it and never worry about wayward copy again.
Check the ideas
Does what you’ve written match your goals?
Think about what you want your copy to achieve. Do you want to promote your new product? Explain your core service? Then check your copy delivers on your aims. If you’re writing an About page, check you’ve given the reader a sense of who you are and how you can help them. If you’re writing an email launching a new product, make sure you’ve covered the benefits of that product.
Does the structure or layout make sense?
Check how the information flows. Start with the big idea, before breaking it down into smaller ideas, leaving the least important information until last.
Check the voice
Every piece of copy you write for your brand should reflect your personality. Check your copy feels right in terms of how you want to portray your brand.
Adjust the tone
If you’re writing Terms and Conditions, you’ll want to pick a more serious tone than if you’re delivering a light-hearted social media post. Is the register of your copy appropriate for the end-use?
Check the language
Read it aloud
Read your copy aloud. Pause on any areas where you trip or stumble over the words and see if you can tidy them up and make them sound more natural.
Use readability software like Hemingway Editor to highlight and remove any overly long sentences or excess use of adverbs, the passive tense or complex language.
Check for excessive repetition of words or phrases. Most of us have language crutches we over-rely on subconsciously. Know yours and use the Find tool to weed them out.
Tidy up wordiness by removing excess use of the word ‘that’ and any wordy phrases like ‘in order to’ or ‘in terms of’.
Check for accuracy
Read it aloud (again)
Use your word processor’s read-aloud tool. This time listen for errors in spelling and grammar.
Use a spelling and grammar checker
Grammarly offers good suggestions. But be warned, it isn’t 100 per cent accurate and won’t always give the best advice. Sense check every suggestion the tool makes.
Change your view
A quick way to spot any remaining errors is to read your content on another device or print it out. Suddenly those little mistakes come to the surface.
If you’re regularly using words with multiple ways of spelling or punctuating (“eco friendly” versus “eco-friendly”) check you’ve been consistent throughout.
Bullets, fonts and punctuation
Check for consistency with your bullet points, punctuation, formatting and spacing.
Review how your content looks on mobile.
Have you made sure your content is suitable for screen reader users? Make sure emojis are kept to the end of sentences and do not replace words. Make sure you have alt text for any visuals.
Boom! You’re ready to hit send. Bask in the glory of perfect copy, my friend.
If you’d like help getting your copy off the starting block or polishing something you’ve already written, drop me a message.
Originally published on Lumen & Fox