The Editorial Apartment

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Common places for copy errors on a website

websitemenusWhen asked to review already published websites, I find that copy in the more functional parts of a website, namely in these three places, can get neglected:

  • Drop-down menus
  • Menus within menus
  • Field names and drop-down menus in forms

The text in these areas often have errors in spelling, casing and alphabetizing, and sometimes in sense and wording. This text is easily overlooked, as it is hidden from view until you click on or hover over something else. With forms, the focus seems to be more on the amount of field space provided.

Be sure to review every bit of copy on a website, not just the main content; all of the text is important.


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Stop. Before it goes live online, get it proofread.


One of the last steps before your project goes to print is to get a final proofread (and color check) of your printer’s blueline.

But what about a final proofread for the online version or for the projects that only get published online, like that e-blast to your customers, or the post for the company blog, or the multiple Web banners in your latest ad campaign?

After staging and final production work, and before your online project goes live, don’t forget to get a final proofread. For help with final proofreading, contact me.

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Copy Editor’s Tip: Creating the first layout

Finally, you’re ready to create the first layout, when final design and copy come together. It means your project is nearly done. I always look forward to seeing the plain text I’ve been reviewing up until then transform into something more visual. But to get the cleanest first layout to present to the client in the fastest way, i.e., with minimal rounds of changes, project managers should remember two things:

  • Last-minute changes to the copy before first layout should be proofread by the proofreader/editor.
  • In the first proofread after the first layout, the proofreader may have to make further changes to the “final” copy.

It’s tempting to have the designer input any last-minute copy changes. However, any errors in the requested changes, or structural fixes needed as a result of the changes, are easier to fix in a plain text document by the editor/proofer, which avoids a round through the design department in case the first layout turns out to be otherwise perfect.

After layout, the proofer will make sure all the copy was laid out. However, when copy melds with a design, it takes another form, it looks different and may read different. Also, the designer may have slightly modified some text, such as a header or caption, to make it fit better in the design. Further, the proofer will be reviewing the piece overall, not just the copy, checking for conformance to house style for example, which may or may not involve small tweaks to the copy. This review is like a first review of a new piece.

It should only take a few production rounds to perfect the first layout, and hopefully, the result is exactly what the client wanted.