Tools like After the Deadline are a great safety net, but you’ll still want to make sure your writing is clear and grammatically correct. Keep upping your grammar game with help from these three sites:
Daily Writing Tips has posts on everything from common grammar errors to homonyms (their, they’re, there) to rules for writing numbers, and beyond. It’s a great one-stop-shop to find answers to common writing questions, as well as the more obscure.
Grammar Girl dishes the dirt on grammar issues large (avoiding the passive voice) and small (knelt, or kneeled?). Best of all, her posts are quick, fun reads.
Apostrophe Abuse is great for a laugh, and for examples of what not to do. If you’ve ever rolled your eyes at a misplaced apostrophe on a flyer or billboard, this blog’s for you.
Tools like After the Deadline (and the proofreading tools built in to WordPress.com) are great for catching typos and making sure that an overlooked mis-type doesn’t cloud your message. As anyone who’s ever relied on a proofreading tool knows, however, there’s more to clean copy than a lack of typos.
Use After the Deadline as your personal proofreading assistant, but consider the other key copyediting steps before you hit “publish.” Rely on this copyediting trifecta to give your sparkling prose a final polish:
- Accuracy. Is everything you’ve written correct? This is critical if what you’re writing includes things like dates, contact information, or data — it’s easy for our eyes to skip over a street addresses or URL we’ve seen a hundred times, so make a point of double-checking. Accuracy is about more that just verifying statistics and email addresses, though. If you’re giving instructions, are they clear? Is there anything you’re written that can be misinterpreted? Be your own devil’s advocate, and give your writing a once-over for accuracy; your piece will be stronger for it.
- Nips and Tucks. Editing is just as important as writing; the first few drafts you write are just that — drafts. Once you’ve got all your ideas down clearly and accurately and you think you’re happy with what you’ve got, take a figurative x-acto knife to your words. Is each word necessary? Is each word as strong as it can be? Does each word advance your point? Be merciless.
- Spelling and Grammar. Here’s where After the Deadline comes in! Do a final sweep of your tight and toned piece to eliminate distracting typos and grammar gaffes. Even your most lyrical description will land with a thunk if your “two” should have been a “too.”
If you’ve got a self-hosted WordPress blog, the multi-functional Jetpack plugin gives you After the Deadline along with dozens of other goodies, and there are After the Deadline extensions available for Chrome, Firefox, and Open Office. Whatever your site’s platform, there’s a tool to help you look your best.