Adam DuVander on Proofreading

"Do a final proofread when something is closest to its final form."

The way you proofread might change based on the circumstances.

That's how developer marketer Adam Duvander proofreads his work. Things he's writing for himself get a quick read-over; things for clients get a much closer review from the team. And as he's writing, he keeps an eye on how people will read the piece, which helps the writing shape up along the way without needing so much editing.

Here's Adam on his writing and proofreading workflow:

What’s your favorite thing you’ve written recently?

I still identify as a writer, but I do less of it these days. The only thing I write regularly is the EveryDeveloper weekly newsletter. It’s written in the first person, which is rare in the B2B content we produce for clients, so it feels different. Each issue is only 200-400 words and usually includes a personal story. The challenge is to include a developer content lesson and authentically remind the reader what we do. Writing these is one of my favorite things each week.

What's your standard writing workflow?

Just about everything our team writes ends up in Google Docs. That’s the case with much of what I write, too. Usually I begin with an outline, often using my Remarkable 2 tablet, which is an e-ink device with surprisingly good handwriting recognition (it’s what I used to write these responses, too).

I try to write for the web the way people read. That means I expect most visitors to only skim what I’ve written. So, I break down the main ideas into sub-headings. Each gets almost as much care as a headline. The opinion within each piece should come through by only reading those sub-headings. The rest of the writing is to fill in the context between those main points.

What’s your favorite way to proofread your work?

I mostly edit as I go these days, so I have fairly light editorial for what I write. If it’s client work, there’s a much more defined process. For my stuff, at most I run it through a team member for copy editing.

I prefer to do a final proofread when something is closest to its final form. That means it’s been loaded into the content management system, such as WordPress or ConvertKit. For client work, we deliver as Google Docs and proofreading is part of our editorial process.

What do you do with things you cut?

Since I edit as I go, I rarely cut large sections. Sometimes I’ll find a sub-section that I realize could be an entire post. In that case, I’ll copy it to a new document, then trim the section down in the original doc. On the rare occasions I do heavy edits (usually on someone else’s draft), I’ll move sentences and paragraphs to the bottom of the document temporarily. They either get moved back to another section or removed forever when I finalize the draft. No mercy!

→ Check out Adam DuVander's work on EveryDeveloper, check out his Developer Marketing Does Not Exist book, and follow him on Twitter @adamd.

The writing platform for creativity