words jumbled and overlapping

Copy Issues to Check Before Handing Off a Website

It's worth it to do a final proofreading after the content load to save yourself and stay on schedule. Here is what to look out for.



February 2, 2016


It’s worth it to do a final proofreading after the content load to save yourself and stay on schedule. You don’t want to have to ask your client to wait for corrections, then bring your copywriter back or — god forbid — ask a developer to write anything.

Big copy problems are rare in the closing stages of a website project because everything should be reviewed, revised, and approved before you start loading onto the site. But small grammar & styling mistakes can still cause closing delays.

Think of it as part of quality assurance. Doing this last on-site read ensures that you’re delivering both the right copy and the right presentation of the copy.

Common Copy Issues to Check Before Website Handoff

Here are some common copy mistakes that a good site read will catch. Note that the mistakes vary from grammar, to copy and paste quarks, to style[sheet] decisions.

  • Forgetting articles: not preceding nouns with “a/an” or “the”.
  • Forgetting commas: not using commas on the final item of a list OR not using them to separate the parts of a sentence.
  • Overusing commas: using them rather than conjunctions (and, or, but, yet, etc.).
  • Bad spacing after a period or comma: having no space after punctuation or 2+ spaces.
  • No punctuation at the end sentences: forgetting a period, question mark, or exclamation point.
  • Missing bullets on the last list item: an issue when cutting & pasting or moving list items around.
  • Using bold for headings: you can call it a style decision, but using h1-n HTML headings is also better for SEO.
  • Large gaps in the copy: large gaps between paragraphs because line spacing in Word or Docs gets converted to multiple “ ” when pasted into your CMS.
  • Different letter-case on different pages:  choose “Title Case”, “ALL CAPS”, or “Sentence case” and stick with it, especially for headings, brand names, and publications.
  • Email addresses that aren’t links: if an email address is part of a CTA, then you want visitors to be able to click it.
  • Uncategorized or un-tagged content: you forget to assign a category or tag, so the content doesn’t show anywhere.
  • Leaving “test” pages everywhere: I’m not sure this is really a copy issue, but don’t leave half-finished pages with weird or duplicate content lying around.
  • Broken or invisible forms: I see this a lot when sites use shortcodes and also if you’re pasting the code in from another source like your CRM or email program.
  • Tiny or Huge embedded videos: happens when you grab an embed code, but don’t check the dimensions. Figure out the right size for pages and then double check before posting.

Small Issues Lead to Big Delays

If you’re working on a smaller site, then these issues aren’t going to cost you much time. Assume 5 minutes per page depending on the length of copy and how complex your layouts are.

But checking every page on an enterprise site and making the corrections will add up pretty quickly. And you also have to factor in the stakeholder issues: executing a scheduled proofreading as part of your QA process gets you points for your attention to detail while having to add hours for proofreading because your client caught mistakes gets you angry web development clients.

Plan for it & Do the Read

Building the proofreading into your timeline will keep this from becoming a schedule risk. Doing the read will make sure you give your client a site without small but frustrating issues to correct. It’s a win for everybody.

Image by Pink Sherbet Photography, licensed under Creative Commons.

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