The first impression a business often makes with prospective clients or customers comes from the written word. Your company can lose credibility by having just one typo in the volumes of words it sends out. Here’s how to improve your proofreading skills so you can improve the quality of your written or printed communications.
Therefore, to minimize mistakes, be sure to proofread everything that gets written in your office—and this includes email. Use a guide to help you methodically check for errors. Avoid proofing your own copy in the final stages because it’s easy to become too familiar with it. If it isn’t feasible to delegate proofreading, leave the copy alone for a while—a day preferably—before searching for errors. Read it backwards, too. It’s a good way to trick your mind into seeing common mistakes.
Read Your Copy Four Times to Improve Your Proofreading
The first time, check for deviations in text, e.g., words typed twice in a row (the the), typographical errors, and incorrect word breaks. For example, consider an erroneous word break that’s made with the word “therapist.” If this word is hyphenated in the wrong place, it becomes the “the-rapist.” That doesn’t leave a good impression!
The second time, read for fact or format inconsistency, poor word usage, weak sentence structure, subject/verb disagreements, repetition of thoughts or phrases, and incorrect math.
On the third read, check for language mechanics such as capitalization, punctuation, spelling, and grammar.
The fourth read includes checking overall format—type size, margins, alignment, spacing, positioning (headlines, subheads, copy, footnotes, indentations), pagination, and general appearance.
Spelling and the Brain:
Can you read the following paragraph?