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Proofreading Well

Research shows that written communications full of typos, misspellings, and usage errors leave readers with a poor impression of the writer and the organization. But proofreading well is challenging.

Before you begin proofreading, make sure your document is reader-focused—with a clearly stated main point, clear organization, easy-to-read formatting, and concise language. Then follow these guidelines and you’ll present a consistent professional image every time:

Take a break between writing and proofreading. The best proofreading is done when you have distance from a document.

  1. Use the spell-checker and grammar-checker slowly and carefully to help you catch your typos. When used mindfully, both are helpful tools. When used carelessly, they will lead you to make new errors almost as often as they help correct existing ones.
  2. Whenever possible, proofread from a printed page. Errors are easier to see on paper than on a screen.
  3. If you have to proofread on a screen, zoom in so that the text is very large. This will allow you to see errors you might otherwise miss.
  4. Read your work aloud. By slowing down and articulating each word, you’ll catch most of your mistakes. And remember, if it doesn’t sound right, it probably isn’t.
  5. Use your word processing program’s Find feature to catch your writing demons—those pesky little mistakes you frequently make. For example, if you tend to confuse accept with except, then type those words into Find so you don’t have to hunt for them.
  6. Proofread several times, taking breaks in between.
  7. If the document carries a lot of weight, give it to a trusted co-worker to proofread after you’ve given it your best shot.

This tip was brought to you by the fabulous editors at Write It Well. For more information about how Write It Well can help you or your staff write more effectively at work, visit writeitwell.com.

Pop Quiz

Choose the better sentence from each pair of sentences. Answers are at the bottom of the newsletter.

A.1. Our boat capsized in the storm, so we needed rescuing.
A.2. The weather had adverse impacts on our boat resulting in the necessity to rescue us from the water.

B.1. There are many ideas that are worth exploring by us at this meeting.
B.2. Let’s explore the many worthwhile ideas at this meeting.

C.1. Martin could not find time to work, shop, and go for walks with the dogs.
C.2. Martin could not find time to work, shop, and walk the dogs.

D.1. Jordan believed that Serena had embarrassed him intentionally.
D.2. Jordan did not believe that Serena had embarrassed him unintentionally.

Pop Quiz Answers

A.1.
B.2.
C.2.
D.1.

Posted on Wednesday, June 13, 2012, at 10:04 am


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