Proofreading Web Documents

By Mary Seroski, Web Design Specialist, The Network Group

1. Scan your page quickly. Close your eyes, then open them. Now scan down the page looking for obvious errors. Make sure the space after all hyperlink text are not included in the code. Pass your cursor over the word after your hyperlinked text to be sure it didn't get captured. Check the alignment of the text with any graphics.

2. Ask for critique from your peers. If you haven't reserved a Web host yet, use one of the free ones to post your page for testing. Then join a forum (such as http://www.delphi.com or http://clubs.yahoo.com) that specializes in the subject matter of your page/site, and ask the members for feedback.

3. Use HTML checkers to verify links and tags. Several checkers are available online to process your URLs.

Check out this great site for popular HTML validation and checkers:
http://dir.yahoo.com/Computers_and_Internet/Data_Formats/HTML/Validation_and_Checkers/

Top favorites sites at this Yahoo.com site for checking links and validating tags include:

http://validator.w3.org/ http://www.netmechanic.com/
http://www.htmlvalidator.com/ http://www2.imagiware.com/RxHTML/

Another great tag validation and link-checker sites is http://watson.addy.com/

4. Not all browsers are equal. Check your pages with both Netscape and Internet Explorer. What may work perfectly in Internet Explorer, may not work well in Netscape. Since different versions of both of these popular browsers are still being used, test your pages against the most commonly used versions. This site (http://www.cast.org/bobby/) provides a free software tool to test your pages against browsers, so you don't have to have every version and brand on your PC!

5. Many Web page authoring programs come with spell checkers. Use them! Also, proofread the content of pages for clarity and grammar accuracy.

6. Once you publish your Web pages, visit them a few times a month to check for broken links. The Internet is constantly evolving; sites come and go at a fast pace. Be proactive; verify that your links are still operable.

7. Avoid a Busy Page. With the variety of animated graphics and special effects (i.e., the "blink" tag) available, avoid placing more than one or two on a page. It distracts the reader from the content of the page and can be quite annoying.

8. Keep it short and sweet. Keep the maximum content of your page to the equivalent of an 11" page. The more the user has to scroll, the more likely you will lose him/her.