Creative Best Practices Email Opinions

Top 10 Proofreading Tips

Posted by Jane Turkewitz on March 3rd, 2014 at 8:27 am

Typos.  They are like zits on a teenager. Completely inevitable and, when few and far between, not very noticeable.  But, when you send document after document, and email after email, filled with garbled vocabulary and missing words, it's like looking at a 15-year-old with a face full of pustules.

In this fast-paced, email-driven world, where multitasking is the norm, SLOWING DOWN is literally the "proactive solution" for typos.  If you want to make sure you are buttoned up in your written correspondence, here are some steps you can take to clean up your communications...

Read Text Out Loud Slowly

When you read out loud, you are forced to slow down. You hear and listen for sentence correctness. Read each word of each sentence ALOUD and very slowly so that you are reading in a monotone.  This will help to avoid reading what you THINK you wrote, vs. what you ACTUALLY wrote.

Read Your Text Backwards

When writing, we usually become blind to our own mistakes since the brain automatically corrects wrong words inside sentences.  In order to break this pattern, try reading your text backwards, word for word.  This will help you to check spelling and details, but not content.

Make Sure Your Numbers Are Correct

Go through all of your copy, looking at numbers on their own.  $10K is very different from $100K. Read the numbers out loud, digit by digit.

Be Prepared Mentally

Make sure you are not tired or RUSHED when proofing.

Practice Makes Perfect

Carefully proofread all internal emails as well as external ones.  If you have a daily proofreading routine in place, it will provide you with greater success and allow you to have greater pride in your work.

Proofread at Least Three Times

The first time you proof a document, it should be for clarity in content.  Clarify unclear thoughts and expand any that need to be finessed.  (Use a Thesaurus for better word choices.) The second time, look for spelling mistakes, tenses and homonyms (i.e., accept/except; their, there).  The third time, check for punctuation and spacing.

If You Edit a Sentence, Proof Again

Every single time you add a word to a sentence, re-read the entire paragraph.

If You Copy and Paste, Re-Read

Make sure to always re-read whenever you copy and paste a document, or a part of a document, into your correspondence.

If It Is Important, Let it Sit/Get Someone Else to Proofread

We can’t always have a peer review our copy, but if it’s something super important, and you need an extra pair of eyes, ask a friend or co-worker for help. If you are in an office, set up a proofreading chain with 5 people on it and have each person sign off after reading through documents.

Every Part of The Email Counts

Read all headlines and subheads separately as we tend to skip these when proofreading.  Don’t forget to proof the subject line and, if a document is attached, make sure it is properly named.

Carpe diem

Jane Ashen Turkewitz is the Principal of .comRecruiting — a firm dedicated to advancing careers in digital media and ad technology.  If you have any comments or suggested topics, please email her at:  Jane@DotComRecruiting.com.

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