Internship Insider: How to proofread betterer
“You better edit yourself before you discredit yourself.”
I’m not sure Ice Cube ever thought he’d be paraphrased for copy editing purposes, but every writer can avoid the wrecking with some careful checking.
A lead or intro-slide error is more damaging than a handful of gaffes later on, but both will cause readers to question your professionalism.
Once they start doing that, they don’t really care about your sports opinion too much either.
There’s no perfect method, but our internship system has proven very effective: Proofread three to five times before publication, with at least one of them being out loud.
Rather than robotic read throughs, jumping into “character roles” when proofreading and copy editing can help you stay more alert and thorough:
1. Your Eyes
Stay in the writing groove throughout an individual slide or short standard article. Don’t stop at the end of each sentence or paragraph as you write. However, by slide or short article’s end, go back for your first read-through, looking for most of the mechanics and phrasing stuff.
2. The Diehard
Once the whole article is completed, read with the eyes of an avid fan for that particular team/player, etc. Assume that everything you’ve written will be vehemently disagreed with. Especially focus on adding depth, completing any hanging statements, fixing content errors, etc. Are your assertions defensible? Did you provide specific evidence, analysis and/or logic to ensure this?
3. The Lay Person
Next, become an outsider to the topic. Look for accessibility and strong transitions that tell a complete story, connect all the dots and provide enough entertainment value for the most casual of readers.
4. Your Ears
Before hitting the “Publish” button, read your work out loud to yourself or some willing person nearby. ANYTHING that doesn’t pass the “sounds good” test isn’t going to read well either. Any sentence that requires multiple breaths is probably too windy for the online genre. Fix it.
5. The Masses
No matter how well you’ve done up to this point, the minute you hit “Publish,” it seems magical gremlins will sprinkle one or two more errors into your work. Revisit your latest article once it’s been published. Read it on the “big screen” and see what catches your eye. You can always click “Edit This Article” on the right hand side under “Editor Tools” to make a quick fix.
Treat every work as if it will be viewed by half a million or more readers. Polish that article to a shine, then let your sports knowledge, enthusiasm and style light the way.
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Joel C. Cordes is Bleacher Report’s Sports Writing Internship Program Feedback Editor. Along with fellow editor Greg Pearl, he develops B/R interns by providing feedback and mentoring, the highlights of which are shared with the B/R Blog.