Tuesday, September 13, 2011

7 Important Tips for Proofreading Your Copy

In today's fast paced world, people do not put as much emphasis on punctuation and grammar because they are always in a hurry to get the message out, the proposal to a client, or an important letter to a customer. But in a world where texting is commonplace with all of its misspelled and condensed words, it has become almost routine to put the niceties aside and just get the job done regardless of whether or not it is readable or whether it makes sense. It is still extremely important to slow down a bit and ensure that what you send out - particularly to a client or potential customer - is factually correct, and readable. More importantly, the communications and content you generate should accurately reflect you and your company. Do you want unprofessional content that is poorly written, full of mistakes to be what people use for the basis of their impression of you and your business? Of course the answer is no. Unfortunately, in many cases, the copy created and disseminated is routinely full of mistakes that somewhat tarnish the professional image that business owners and managers are working so hard to build and protect. Here are some tips to help ensure that your copy is always correct when it goes out:
  1. Homophones (Homonyms) - Pay attention to homonyms such as complement and compliment or accept or except as these words have such different meanings that they can really send the wrong message. An excellent list of homophones can be found here: http://www.mcwriters.com/2008/05/29/homophones-and-spell-checkers-don’t-mix/
  2. Punctuation - Ensure the usage of periods and commas are correct and in the right places. Do not capitalize a word that shouldn't have a capital letter.
  3. Apostrophes or Contractions - Don't use an apostrophe for plurals such as winner's instead of winners. Pay particular attention to words like its and it's or your and you're to ensure they are used correctly.
  4. Concentrate on What You are Doing - Oftentimes in a busy office there are many distractions like phones ringing, people interrupting you, or televisions and radios blaring that can disrupt your concentration so that you do not pay attention to what you are doing.
  5. Watch the Numbers - When using numbers in a message or a proposal one less or one more zero can make a huge difference in what you are trying to say - such as $20,000 instead of $200,000 or vice versa.
  6. Read It Out Loud - Sometimes just reading it out loud will tell you right away that you have made a mistake even if your eye didn't catch it.
  7. Print It and Proofread It - Print it out so that you can see what you have written. Many times you can see a mistake immediately just by looking at it. Better yet, let another co-worker or trusted resource read your work prior to sending it. These are just a few ways to help you in your quest to properly maintain your company's professional image as you write and produce copy that will be read by customers, potential clients, and the general public.
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