Posted by: Jack Henry | February 12, 2019

Editor’s Corner: Proofreading Guide

I was just looking at these seven steps for proofreading, and though I think I’ve shared them with you before, I decided that there’s no time like the present to review them. The original article is from Daily Writing Tips, but I’ve almost completely obliterated it to make it more personal. (As usual, black text is from the original article, blue text is mine.)

Use a checklist. Create a list of important things to check for. This list should be very personal (well, no love notes). If you often forget periods at the ends of your sentences, put it on your list. If you have problems with subject/verb agreement, add that. If you add two spaces after a period, put it on your list and remind yourself not to do it.

Fact-check. Double-check facts and proper names. If you are writing to clients, it’s important to get their names and their financial institutions’ names right. Some people take great offense when you don’t get this right. Other facts and figures should also be checked, such as product names. If something seems to be missing, highlight it and fill it in before sending out your communication.

Spell-check. ¡Ay caramba! There is built-in help in Word, Outlook®, and other programs to help with spelling and grammar. Of course, I could say, “Thanks for providing us with job security by turning this off!” But really, don’t embarrass yourself. Use what’s out there. We have instructions for two of your options in the Symitar Knowledge Base:

Read aloud. Nope, I’m not talking about digging out Goodnight Moon or The Runaway Bunny. Read the text of your email out loud (quietly). It can help tremendously when something doesn’t look quite right, but you can’t figure out what. For example, repeated words are more obvious when reading aloud, as are extra words (such as “the the”) that were missed while rewriting.

Focus on one line at a time. When proofing print documents, use another piece of paper or a ruler to cover the text following the line you are proofreading, shifting the paper down as you go along. This technique helps you keep your place and discourages you from reading too quickly and missing subtle errors. Okay, not many of us proofread print documents these days, but just in case you do, this works pretty well.

Attend to format. Proofreading isn’t just about reviewing the text. Make sure that the document design adheres to established specifications. Even better, send your client-facing documents to an editor! It is our job to read your material, apply the correct formatting, use the correct template, and comb through what you’ve written to make sure it applies to the company’s standards.

Proof again. Once revisions have been made, proofread the document again.

That’s it! Yes, the amount of time you spend on your 200-page master work will differ from the time you spend on an email, but these steps will help you present your best written “self,” with just a little bit of extra time each day.

Whew! Time for some puppies!

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

619-542-6773 | Ext: 766773

Symitar Documentation Services

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