Don’t Hit Publish Until You’ve Done These Three Things
If you’re a writer, you know this feeling: You spend hours writing something that you believe is spectacular and should go viral. I’m done! you say to yourself. Submit!
Sometimes, you truly believe it’s flawless. Other times, you know it’s not, but you don’t have the time, patience, or resources to polish it up, so you release it into the world and hope for the best.
Everyone makes the occasional typo. It happens. That said, there are certain grammatical and syntactical felonies that are easy to avoid if you take just ten minutes to do these three things before you hit “publish”.
1. Properly format your title and subtitle (estimated time: 1 minute).
You can use CapitalizeMyTitle to do this. The standard is to use title case for your title and sentence case for your subtitle. It’s alright to deviate from this, of course, but deviate purposefully.
YES: This is My Title (title case — this is the standard)
YES: This Is My Title (first letter)
YES: This is my title (sentence case)
MAYBE: this is my title (fine, if it’s on purpose)
NO: This is my Title (don’t do this)
NO: This Is my Title (try again)
Unless you’re certain that your title is formatted properly, take a minute to run it through the title checker before you hit “publish”.
2. Use Grammarly or Hemingway to edit your work (estimated time: 7 minutes).
I don’t know why so many people are resistant to Grammarly. It’s free, it’s easy to use, and you have no excuse not to use it. Yes, there is a paid version. Yes, it’s cooler than the free version. No, you do not need it.
“I am too proud to use Grammarly.” Listen. I am a full-time senior technical writer and I use the Grammarly Chrome extension literally every day. Yes, you should always read your own work before you publish it — but weary eyes glaze over obvious mistakes. Grammarly doesn’t.
There is no shame in using Grammarly. Repeat after me: there is no shame in using Grammarly. Or Hemingway. Or ProWritingAid. Or whatever tool you choose to use.
Here is an example of one mistake that I made on purpose, and one that I made by accident because I was typing too fast.
One thing worth noting is that Grammarly is not meant to take your voice away. It’s not meant to “correct” different dialects or vernaculars of English. It’s just meant to point out things that you might wish to take a look at before hitting “publish”. You don’t need to accept every suggestion.
3. Check your formatting (estimated time: 2 minutes).
Do a quick scan of your piece.
- Use headers and subheaders when appropriate. Do not use bold text and call it a header.
- Are your images attributed? An image with no attribution is an image that you shouldn’t be publishing. Did you create the image? “Image by the author.” Done.
- Check for weird spacing issues.
- Limit the use of ALL CAPS, excessive bold text, excessive italics, and the egregious and unnecessary combination of bold+italic ALL CAPS text.
- Use inline quotes and
code snippetscorrectly. Inline quotes are not for emphasis — they are for quotes. Code snippets are not for emphasis — they are for code.
- Properly format your title and subtitle (estimated time: 1 minute).
- Use Grammarly or Hemingway to edit your work (estimated time: 7 minutes).
- Check your formatting (estimated time: 2 minutes).
Total time required: 10 minutes.
Not every article is going to be a masterpiece, but there is no reason to publish articles full of writing and editing misdemeanors. Ten minutes can make all the difference.