In today’s frenzied social media culture, visual images reign supreme. Every digital marketing strategy proposes posting more images to grab attention and increase audience engagement. However, if words accompany these images, they must also be proofed as any other document. How embarrassing is it to upload beautiful images with incorrect text? Just one typo can sour a potential client, so error-free visuals are just as important as error-free documents.
Since so many documents are sent digitally—through computer-related software and devices—most writers, proofreaders and editors spend lots of time looking at screens, both big and small. Although it is always best to proofread from a printed hard-copy, at times, this might not be an option. In that case, you have to be particularly mindful of how your work shows up on screen. When it comes to social media content, you might find it easier to edit and proofread text and images from a smartphone or a device with a small screen. Errors are easier to catch on smaller, compact screens.
As a general rule, check for clarity and readability in addition to grammar errors and typos when proofreading photographs, illustrations, or other visual content. If you are posting to professional networking sites such as LinkedIn, you also need to check for correct spellings of names, employment titles, social media handles, and web links to other sites or product pages. Even if you are posting to more casual social media sites like Facebook or Twitter for person or professional use, make sure the post contains appropriate material in case potential employers, recruiters, or spouses decide to investigate your social media activity.
General Social Media Proofreading
Make sure that you check and correct these mistakes that are commonly overlooked in news stories, posts, and social media campaigns.
Quotes. Make sure to cite the correct person and source of the quote material.
Headlines. Make sure that headlines are accurate and not misleading.
Numbers. Put commas, dollar and cent signs in the correct position.
Misspellings. Please spell check all of the content that you post!
Job Titles. Use the title that a company has assigned to a particular position.
Names. Double-check all personal and proper names of places or products in your social media posts.
Location. Specify whether a business is online only or list the correct physical location, if necessary.
Time. For webinars or other events, it is important to list the correct start time.
Dates. If you are announcing an event, ensure that the date is correct on your post.
Address. If you are advertising a business or event with a physical location, double-check that the street number, street name, city, state, and zip code are absolutely correct.
Age. Ask for permission to post a person's age beforehand. As a general rule, only mention age when absolutely necessary, For example, if a product or event caters to a certain age group.
Proofreading Visual Images
The following questions form a useful checklist for correcting errors in visual content:
• Is the image clear? Is any part blurry? • Are the colors crisp or dull? • Do the colors complement each other or clash? • In black and white photos, are any parts too light or too dark? • Should the image be lightened or darkened to print well? • Does the image fit in the space provided? • Should the image be horizontal or vertical? • Is the text too big or too small? • Is the text on top of the image easy to read? • Should the text depth be bold, regular or light? • Is the font style easy to read? Is it professional? • Does the image accurately reflect the text? • Do the captions accurately describe the image? • Are the figure numbers in captions correctly formatted? • Are all words spelled correctly? Any typos? Correct grammar? • Is the logo style and color correct? • For print, is the image resolution 300 dpi? At least 72 dpi for the web? • Are any photo credits, copyright or legal disclaimers missing from the footers?
This article contains excerpts from Chapter 16 Proofreading for Social Media. For more helpful proofreading tips and practical exercises to sharpen your editing skills, get your copy of Proofreading Power Skills & Drills!
Ashan R. Hampton is a long-time English instructor turned entrepreneur. Through her company, Onyx Online Education & Training, she offers digital courses and print books on grammar, proofreading, business writing and communication for personal and professional development to individuals and corporations. To find out more about Ashan's work, visit www.arhampton.com.
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