Proofreading is important, especially for those of us in the communications industry. We’re judged on how well we communicate ideas or strategies and much of how we do so is through the written word. That’s why it’s crucial to proofread your work before hitting the send or publish button. The last thing you want to do is send a reporter, a client or a new business lead an error-ridden document.
Here are HJMT Public Relations Inc.’s top 5 proofreading pro tips:
- Use spell-check – It should go without saying, but spell-check can save you from making a careless mistake. A word of warning though, make sure you’re correcting something that should be corrected! Spell-check can sometimes turn a proper name or other words into what it “thinks” it should be. Don’t just accept all the changes, double check that spell-check is right first.
- Print it out and read away from your computer screen – Sometimes breaking out the old pen and paper can help you to avoid proofing errors. Reading your copy in a different format (i.e. printed) may give your eyes a much-needed electronic break. It will also help you catch any lingering grammatical or spelling errors.
- Take a break – When you’ve been writing something for a few hours, days or weeks – all of your sentences and thoughts tend to run together. You might read a sentence and subconsciously put in a word that is missing. Taking a break and coming back to your prose with fresh eyes will help.
- Don’t rush – When you’re up against a deadline, you make more mistakes. It’s just the way it goes! Take your time, slow down and read what you’ve written. It also may help to proof your document more than once looking for different things each time. Perhaps once for punctuation, once for grammar and spelling, another glance for flow and so on.
- Read it out loud – This is a surefire way to catch a mistake. Read your work out loud and often. Even get a colleague to listen in so they can provide feedback as well.
At HJMT, we also have a proofreading process. All members of our team proof a document, brochure, email blast, website, press release and/or blog entry prior to distribution. The more eyes, the better and ultimately, the fewer mistakes.
Follow these tips and your written communication will soon be error free!