Have you ever sent an email only to realise you have made a spelling error? Or worse, spent thousands on marketing material only to realise there is a glaring error AFTER it has been printed?
If you have, you’re not alone.
Proofreading may seem like a simple task, but it’s probably one of the most important. After all, misspelled words can make you look ignorant — particularly if they are common words.
Why proofreading is important
Proofreading is the final stage of the writing process. It’s the part that comes AFTER you have finished writing, editing and re-structuring your work. And it should only be done after you have finished ALL of your editing revisions.
Contrary to popular belief, proofreading isn’t just about picking up spelling and grammatical errors, although this is an important aspect. Proofreading ensures:
- your message is clear, concise and easy to read
- your message is consistent with your brand
- your message is consistent with your style guide
- you have included key phrases or terms
- your message is unlikely to offend anyone
- what you are saying is accurate and true
- you look professional.
Tips for proofreading
Most people only spend a few minutes on proofreading, hoping to catch glaring errors. However, after spending so much time crafting your message, you don’t want it all ruined by a careless, slap-dash approach to checking your work.
Here are some tips for proofreading:
- Don’t rely on spell-checkers — While they are useful, spell-checkers are far from foolproof. Some of them won’t recognise particular words and they won’t catch the wrong use of words (e.g. ‘your’ VS ‘you’re’).
- Don’t rely on grammar-checkers — These too can be useful, but grammar-checkers can also be problematic as they work with a limited number of rules.
- Proofread for one type of error at a time —Check for punctuation errors in one reading, and spelling errors in another. Trying to check for too many variables increases the risk of something being missed.
- Read your work slowly and carefully — It can be tempting to rush proofreading when you are very familiar with your content, but look at every word.
- Read your work out loud — This will help you identify content that sounds clunky and awkward.
- Read sentences separately — Focus on one sentence at a time, instead of rushing to the next one.
- Read your work backwards — This is a tip I learnt when studying journalism. It may seem awkward, but that’s the point. When you read it backwards, the punctuation, grammar and content won’t make much sense, forcing you to focus on spelling errors.
When you should hire a proofreader
Proofreading becomes easier over time. The more you do it, the better you become. However, there are some instances when you really should hire someone to do it for you. Consider hiring a proofreader if:
- You struggle with correct grammar, punctuation and spelling
- You don’t have time to thoroughly proofread your work
- Your professionalism rides on the accuracy of your written content, and you simply can’t afford any mistakes
- You are too attached to the writing and need a ‘fresh pair of eyes’ to look at it.
It’s far better to pay someone to check for mistakes before you publish, than realise you’ve made them when it’s too late!
If you’re in need of a great proofreader at reasonable rates, we’d love to help you out. Contact us today.