We’ll take a look at what quality assurance is, what is expected, and some tips and tricks for reviewing large volumes of content.
What is quality assurance?
Quality assurance (QA) is the final check before content is submitted to the client. It’s typically conducted by a Content Quality Lead and involves checking all of the content is consistent, meets the brief and is objectively clean.
During quality assurance, we check the following areas:
Content brief including tone of voice, target audience etc.
Glossary including banned words and preferred terms
SEO requirements (if relevant)
SEO best practices
Word and character counts
Spelling and grammar
Logic or sense issues
This may seem like a lot to take in at first, but after you’ve completed quality assurance a few times on a project, these checks will become second nature and you’ll be able to work both quickly and accurately.
Where does quality assurance fit in the workflow?
Quality assurance is the final step before delivery to the client. In order to understand where the work has been before it reaches this stage, we have mapped out the content creation workflow below.
Write the piece up to subbing standard
Submit to editing
Complete any amends from editing
Request amends from writing if the piece is not at subbing standard
Edit the piece to publishable standard
Submit to QA
Complete any amends from QA
3. Quality assurance (completed by Content Quality Lead)
Request amends from editing if the piece is not at publishable standard
Objective and brief-specific checks to ensure at least 99% of the batch is on-brief, objectively clean and error-free
Deliver to client
After delivery, the following step takes place if the client requests amends:
4. Client amends (completed by Content Quality Lead)
Record and categorise client feedback
Implement client amends and redeliver
Make updates to brief and other content resources according to client feedback and let the writing and editing team know
How do I conduct quality assurance?
Step one: review the content
When you first receive content, it is useful to go through and identify anything that you need to send back to the copy editors for amendments.
It can be useful to create a checklist to apply to each piece you quality assure. This could include things like:
Have keywords been included?
Are the headings formatted correctly?
Are hyperlinks correctly integrated?
Has the glossary been followed?
Example QA checklists:
You should also check for consistency. The person assigned to quality assurance is the only team member with full visibility of the batch, as copywriters and copy editors can only see the work they are assigned to. This makes checking for overall consistency doubly important. If team members have approached things differently, it is worth talking to the content manager about brief updates to get everyone on the same page.
Step two: request amends from copy editors if necessary
Small tweaks, like fixing a one-off spelling mistake or formatting change, can be made at quality assurance. However, any larger changes or recurring issues should be sent back to copy editors.
When feeding back to copy editors, Content Quality Leads should follow best-practice feedback principles. This involves identifying the issue, explaining why it needs to change, and giving scalable tips for tackling the area in future. This allows copy editors to understand where they went wrong and learn, so there will be fewer issues in future batches.
See our resource How to give great feedback for tips.
Step three: re-review the content and make final changes
You may make some small changes at the quality assurance stage but by the time the work is resubmitted to you after your first review, it should be on-brief and free from errors.
When copy editors re-submit the work, you should:
Check all amends have been made correctly
Using your checklist, make any necessary edits to ensure the content meets the brief
Conduct automated spelling and grammar checks using plug-ins or other tools available in your language
Proofread the content
As you conduct this final check, try to put yourself in the mind of the client reviewer who will be looking at the pieces, probably in one sitting. You should make sure the content is consistent and that the batch 'hangs together' as a complete unit.
Step four: submit the content to the client
It’s best to submit the whole batch to the client at once, rather than one piece at a time – otherwise, the client might get an email telling them they have work to review, click the link and only find a single product description out of a batch of 100. Submitting as a batch also means if you spot a consistency issue halfway through the batch, you can go back and change it in any content you’ve already looked through.
Supporting the team
Remember, the goal is to identify and resolve key issues causing problems across the batch, not to edit every individual problem yourself. By making sure you are requesting amends and sending feedback to the team after quality assurance, you can support the copywriters, translators and copy editors to improve over time by helping them to spot issues themselves.
What resources can I use for automated checks?
We always recommend a proofread as part of quality assurance, as there are issues you will catch that an automated check might miss. However, using automated tools can help you to spot things you might have otherwise missed, speed up the process and give you more confidence before you submit to the client.
Helpful resources for objective checks:
Grammarly – spelling and grammar checker. The Chrome plug-in is great for automatically checking on J+ Scribe
Word frequency counter – useful for spotting word repetition
HemingwayApp – handy tool for keeping copy clear and concise
Jellyfish creator style guide – helpful explanations of key grammar, formatting and house rules
Copyscape – plagiarism checker
How should I quality assure large volumes?
When you’re reviewing large batches of content, you should still follow the principles outlined above. However, it’s worth tweaking the process a little to make sure it’s as efficient as possible. Our recommendation for conducting efficient quality assurance at scale is to follow a methodical, structured approach.
Here are some tips and tricks for quality assuring large volumes:
Tip 1 – send scaled feedback
Divide the batch into three – you should only need to review around a third of the pieces to get an understanding of the key problems. You don’t always need to read every single piece.
Pick pieces throughout the batch – review pieces throughout the batch, for example looking at every third piece. That way you’ll spot if the ones at the start are much better than the ones at the end, or the middle.
Keep different copy editors in mind as you review – you can see who has worked on each piece using the ‘deliverable’ tab on J+ Scribe. It’s useful to split your feedback by copy editor, as different people will have different strengths and weaknesses.
Pick out the biggest issues that appear most commonly – find the things that will be the most time-consuming for you to fix and send those back to the copy editors first.
Send constructive feedback – make sure you name the issue, explain it, give one example from their work, and outline how to fix it. You don’t need to pull out every example, just explain to the copy editor how they can spot the issue so they can identify and fix it themselves.
Be clear that the feedback applies to the whole batch – remind your colleague that although you’ve pulled out examples, it applies broadly and they should look for other examples throughout their allocation.
Tip 2 – review using batch view
Navigate to batch view – this can be found on the lower left-hand side of the ‘assignment list’ view on J+ Scribe. It allows you to see the batch all at once.
Review by section – batch view allows you to quickly compare content side-by-side, especially shorter sections like product names or titles. You can easily see if something is formatted differently or inconsistent with the rest of the batch.
Use the search function – using the J+ Scribe search bar in the upper right corner (not a control + F, as it won’t find everything on this page) you can search for key terms. This can help check for inconsistencies, like hyphenation or capitalisation. It can also help find judgement issues, for example by searching for words like ‘healthy’ or ‘sustainable’ that may be tricky for specific briefs.
Tip 3 – review by copy editor
Identify copy editor’s allocation on the assignment list – the copy editor’s name appears on the assignment list so that you can easily see who has worked on each section of a batch.
Keep notes for each copy editor – knowing people’s strengths and weaknesses will help you remember what to check for when quality assuring their work. This may become a set of mini checklists to help you review, or help you manage your time as you’ll know if some team members’ work is faster to quality assure than others. The team training and performance tracker is a good place to keep these notes.
Send scaled feedback – you can combine reviewing by copy editor with Tip 1 by sending scaled feedback and asking the copy editor to check through their own allocation for a specific issue.
Tip 4 – use automated checks to help speed things up
Spelling and grammar – using a plug-in or copying and pasting work into an application with a spell-check can help reassure you of correct spelling and grammar. We still recommend a proofread, as there will be things that automated checks might not catch.
Banned words and words to be wary of – J+ Scribe has a ‘banned words’ functionality that underlines specific words in yellow. This can be used to ban words, but it can also be useful to highlight alternative spellings (for example, with or without hyphens) and terms to be wary of (for example, terms like ‘sustainable’ that may be legally problematic). You can ask the content manager to add words to the banned words at any stage and they will immediately take effect, helping you and the team to spot problem areas quickly.
Repetition – word frequency checkers can help you to check for overused terms.
Plagiarism – plagiarism checkers can be very helpful on projects with high research where people may inadvertently borrow too heavily from their research material.
What is training QA?
If it’s your first time conducting quality assurance on a project, the content manager will provide you with quality assurance training. This means they will be on a layer (called Training QA) between quality assurance and client delivery.
As quality assurance is the final line of defence for quality, Training QA can be very in-depth. You can expect the content manager to give feedback on small issues that wouldn’t usually be pushed back and forth between stages. This is with the goal of helping you learn to spot these granular issues yourself so that in future your attention to detail will be sharp enough to spot any errors, however minor.
The content manager will also be able to send scalable feedback to you for any recurring areas you need support with.
If you have any questions about quality assurance, the process or feel that you might need top-up quality assurance training, don’t hesitate to reach out to your content manager for help.