proofread

Do you want to write great copy for your website? In this blog I am sharing my top tips to help you proofread like a pro, using free tools.

Great website copy will make you look more dependable to potential customers. Proofreading is a quick way to make sure that the text you are writing for your business is error-free and looks professional.

There are three areas to look at when proofing your text: spelling and grammar, passive voice, and plain language. Below I am sharing my top three tips and useful free resources to help you proofread your website copy like a pro.

Tip number 1: Using the right spelling and grammar is a great way to show to your customers that your website copy was written by a professional.

It may sound like the obvious place to start. But if you are working on your website editor writing the text directly onto your pages, it will be quite easy for the wrong word to slip through the cracks. If you landed on a website of a professional organisation that had spelling mistakes, what would that make you think about the quality of their services?

Your website could be the first point of contact between your business and a potential customer. Spellcheck your copy to ensure that it is great and sends the right message about your business.

⭐ My top tip: Write your copy in a word processor first

Often, we are so excited about an aspect of our business that we may go straight onto our web editor and start creating a page. I highly recommend that you start writing your website text on a word processor before putting it on your website editor. Word, Google Docs, and other similar word processors will have powerful proofing tools embedded that will allow you to track things like grammar, spelling, tone of voice, and accessibility.

You get brownie points for also proofing your website text in a different format – print out on paper or look at it on a different device. It may surprise you what you have missed.

Tip number 2: Avoid passive voice to make your website easier to read and create great copy that tells your story with energy and impact

If you had to write essays in secondary school or university, you may have heard about the dreaded passive voice. This is part of grammar, but the reason I am making it stand out here is that so often we forget how damaging it can be for our text. I find passive voice in my writing quite often, and I have been training not to use it for years.

Passive voice reduces the impact of your writing because it makes your copy longer and more complicated to understand. It puts the subject, often a customer, in the position of the (passive) observer, the receiver rather than the active doer.

For the same reason, it can become unclear to whom the text is referring or directed. See this: The milk was spilled on the side. Well then, who spilled the milk?

Example

Passive sentence:

If your item is faulty, a returns form should be completed with your goods before they are sent back to us.

Active voice:

If your item is faulty, complete a returns form before you send your goods back to us.

⭐ My top tip: search for the passive voice in your website copy

Most spellcheckers, such as the one available with MS Word, will have a passive voice filter. For an alternative quick way to find passive sentences in your text, search for forms of the verb “to be”: been, is, am, has.

If you have access to MS Word for work, make sure that you enable the passive voice checker. Find out how to do that here: How to Check for Passive Voice in Microsoft Word for Office 365

Tip number 3: Using accessible language and plain English on your website is a great way to diversify your customer base

I have spoken about accessible language before (see my blog: How to build a strong brand using inclusive language). This last tip is along the same lines. With few exceptions, it should be our goal to make our text easy to understand, so our customers and people know what we expect of them, and they can act quickly.

Using plain language will make it easier for your customers to understand what you do and help you avoid misunderstandings and confusion. It also allows you to speak to a wider range of people with different levels of language and learning skills.

⭐ My top tip

Have a list of word alternatives and focus on what words you should not use, rather than what words you should use. 

Instead of thinking what language you should use, it may help to create a list of words you should not use! See the guide for an example. See this useful list by the Plain English Campaign: Alternative words

These are my top three tips to help you write great copy for your website.

What do you think? Do you ever think about inclusive language when you write for your business? If you want to receive updates from me with useful tips like the ones I shared in this blog, join the Work Happy Community.