Everyone hates typos, especially once they’ve been printed, paid for and distributed. Having a mistake on a communications piece that’s gone out to consumers puts your company’s reputation on the line. What kind of quality can you assure clients if your marketing materials look like they’ve been proofread by illiterate amateurs? I learned about the importance of proofreading to my frustration, when I wasn’t given a chance to review a sample of the final hardcopy materials before they went to press. It sucks.
The Importance of Proofreading
Why is proofreading necessary?
- It helps you maintain credibility in shareholders’ eyes (and clients, partners and anyone else who reads your communications materials).
- Your business earns respect by producing consistently high-quality content.
- Reprinting communication materials is frustrating and costly in terms of both time and money.
- It’s important to have a credible portfolio (this is for the copywriters and content creators out there–no one wants to hire writers whose previous work is full of errors).
4 Proofreading Tips for Flawless Content
1. Clarify the proofreading process. When you’re working in an office, there are multiple people who can catch mistakes, add information and edit copy. If you don’t have a clear process, insist on one. You won’t regret it. Make sure whoever the final copy runs through before being sent to press is detail-oriented and experienced.
An example of a clear editing process is Journalist > Editor > Communications Director. Another example is Copywriter > Marketing Associate > Marketing Director. Make as many rounds as you need, as long as you are absolutely sure that the content is going to press with NO errors. Insist on always seeing a sample (both printed and virtual) of the most updated copy before something goes to press.
2. Read forwards and backwards. When you read backwards, you avoid glossing over a familiar sentence and overlooking spelling errors. This is because reading backwards makes it harder for your brain to fill in the blanks and correct mistakes without you realizing. Having words out-of-order also encourages you to read each word individually, not as part of a sentence.
3. Change the font styles or margins. Altering the layout may expose errors that were missed before, because you’re looking at your content in a new context. A missing word or double space may have been overlooked because of a line break. An extra word or incorrect “a” vs “an” could come to light because you’re reading each sentence a different way.
4. Always work with the most current copy. Making corrections on old content is a useless waste of time. Make sure you edit updated materials so you don’t have to jumble through edits that have already been made, or confuse yourself trying to transfer corrections after you’ve made them. It’s a recipe for disaster, and anyone who says “this isn’t the most updated content but could you take a look at it?” is wasting your time. Don’t let them.
Implement these best practices and avoid going through the despair and humiliation of typos!