Who knew? National Proofreading Day is celebrated each year on March 8 to raise awareness of the importance of proofreading. That’s a worthy cause for everyone, not just professional communicators. In celebration of the art of proofreading, here are 10 tips to keep you looking good in print.
Run spell check. Seems obvious, right? But all that’s obvious to me from much of the material I review is that most people fail to do this consistently.
Read it aloud. Yes, it feels kind of silly, but it’s extremely effective.
Watch for words that are spelled correctly but misused, as spell check won’t catch them. If you mean to describe a dessert and instead describe a desert, people may wonder where amongst the sand dunes to find the chocolate fudge.
Check headlines, subheads and even contact information carefully. People tend to concentrate on the body of the text and often miss errors in these locations.
Beware all caps! Most spell check programs do not check text in all caps. It’s a bummer to have a perfect article with a HEADINE MISPELED.
Check the file name. If you plan to share a document, misspellings look just as bad in the filename as they do in the material the file contains.
Print your work and read it. It is amazing the things you will miss on screen that jump out at you once printed on paper. Then be earth friendly and reuse the back or recycle the paper.
Don’t be lazy. Texting in particular has made us lazy. Why type out “you too!” when you can say U2! But business and professional writing is not the place for text-talk or cute shorthand.
Have someone else review your work. Because you know what you meant to write, your eye will fail to see certain mistakes that fresh eyes will catch. Always ask someone to proof your work.
Re-read your work first thing in the morning, or several hours after you wrote it. Even your own eyes will be fresher then.
Dana Coleman is a Vice President at Lovell Communications. You can view more of Dana’s blogs here. Connect with Dana at Dana@lovell.com or @lovelldc.
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