Your company's written words "speak" for your business. Does your writing present a professional image, or are your materials filled with typos, misspellings, grammatical mistakes or other errors? No matter how good you are at what you do, documents containing obvious errors will erode your credibilityâ€¦whether the errors are in your "formal" marketing materials or your "informal" emails and letters.
Here are some tips for effective proofreading:
- Check Your Spelling. At a minimum, be sure to use your word processor's spell check function! Although this won't catch all errors, it will catch many (for example, spell check won't notice the mistake if your typo is an actual word, such as "mop" instead of "map").
- Read It Out Loud. This is probably the most important step for successful proofreading. Hearing your document being read out loud makes it easier to notice awkward sentences, repetitive phrases, grammatical errors, typos that weren't caught by your word processing program and other mistakes.
- Take a Break. If time permits, set your writing aside and revisit it later. You'll come back to the piece with fresh eyes and a new point of view.
- Print It Out. Next, print out a hard copy of your writing and read it again. Sometimes you'll notice errors "in print" that you didn't see on screen.
- Ask for Help. Once you are happy with your editing, ask someone who has a good understanding of spelling, grammar and punctuation to review the document for you. Even after checking and double checking, it's easy to miss an error in your own work that may be obvious to someone who is reading it for the first time.
Whenever you write something that's not just "for your eyes only," be sure that thorough proofreading and editing are integral parts of your writing process.