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Ellen Cline, writer
Creative communication that markets, informs, and entertains

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Look again—proofreading

Author: ; Published: Nov 10, 2010; Category: Business Writing, Editing and Proofing; Tags: , , ; No Comments

look again

Reading a lot can turn you into a tough audience, a real critic. I notice things and am appalled. Maybe most people don’t notice.

I’ve written emails to book publishers, small business owners and large company webmasters pointing out typos. Usually they’re appreciative. 

Are the typos in their ad for an editor part of the testing process? Did they really mean to misspell the name of their product?

This doesn’t mean that I don’t need my own proofreader or editor. We all do. I might be better than most at catching things, but let’s face it—if you’ve been working on a piece and seen it over and over as it’s been written and edited, sometimes you just can’t see it anymore. So having others proofread can be invaluable.

Fresh eyes can see a lot more than ones that have already read something 20 times. And don’t forget to get someone to double-check all the important details like phone numbers, email addresses and the spelling of the CEO’s name.

There are all the usual tricks such as taking a break before reading the piece again, reading it backwards, reading it aloud.

If someone has added a tiny change, even one word, beware. Cutting and pasting in even small edits can create new errors. Double “the” anyone? One changed word can lead to sentences that no longer make sense. So don’t slack off before you get to the final version.

Editing online text can be more forgiving. At least you can make changes easily, unlike after you’ve printed 10,000 paper copies of something. But still, typos online look unprofessional.

So use your word processor’s spellchecker, even if it’s not perfect. And use your eyes and whoever else’s eyes you can borrow to take a gander. Review what you’ve written. You may never achieve perfection, but you almost certainly can do better than people who never proofread do.

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