By nature, we read our own text too quickly, which means our eyes see what we think they should see. This is why it is so difficult to pick up the errors we’ve made.
There is a noticeable difference between a well copy‐edited and proofread article, and a hastily written one that’s only had a quick ‘skim’. You could spend hundreds or thousands on amazing design and print, only to find, when your beautiful new brochure is delivered, there’s an error on the cover! How did that get through the writer, the designer and the printer?!
The reason is that proofreading is an acquired skill and proofreaders are specifically trained and experienced at finding errors in text. The writer thought about word count and content, the designer used the words to create an attractive design, and the printer checked quality, layout and colours. They might have picked up a few things, but, ultimately, the poor quality of your copy will detract from the overall good quality of your brochure.
By not getting your copy independently and professionally proofread, you run a high risk of publishing something that at best is inconsistent and difficult to comprehend, and at worst damages your company’s reputation. When customers read errors in text, they become distracted by it and eventually switch off — for the sake of a few hours of expert checking, the outcome could be so much different.
The fact that proofreading is so affordable makes it even easier to include it in your budget. The service of a professional proofreader costs a fraction of the amount spent on all the other processes involved in publishing the copy, such as design, print or website creation.
So, perhaps the question is not should you get a proofreader to look at your text — it’s can you afford not to?
In this fast-paced world, mistakes are understandable, but failure to edit and proofread your business e-mails can
lead to catastrophic results
. Typos and other errors in e-mails can make
you seem unprofessional and careless. However, there are steps that you can
take to proofread your e-mails more effectively. Let’s take a look at some of
the best ways to keep errors out of your online communications right now.
1. Type the recipient’s name correctly
One of the reasons people are so irritated when they see their names misspelt in e-mails is because it gives the impression that the sender does not care about them. You may wish to conduct a Google search, check your business records or look on a business network such as LinkedIn to ensure you have typed their name correctly. If you’re still unsure about how to spell their name after that, don’t include it in your message.
2. Use the right tone
If your e-mail doesn’t sound sufficiently warm or friendly, you may alienate the recipient. It’s a wise move to read the message that you are sending back to yourself two or three times, to check you are happy with the tone. Imagine you are the recipient of the e-mail while reading it back, especially if you’re talking to clients, customers or employees. Think of ways you can make your request sound friendlier.
3. Are you conveying your message correctly?
Does your e-mail include valuable information about a news story, promotion or event? Make sure you haven’t assumed too much knowledge on the part of the reader. Have you left out anything they can’t be expected to know, such as who you are and what services you provide? Similarly, make sure you are not providing irrelevant information. You may risk losing the interest of your recipient if your message isn’t clear or concise. Write short sentences and use small words, unless you are using terminology the reader is likely to be familiar with – they may only have a few moments to read and digest your e-mail.
4. Choose your verbs carefully
To avoid using the same words too often in your message, swap words you have typed multiple times for more interesting or even more powerful alternatives. If you can cut words out from sentences without compromising the meaning, consider doing so.
5. Proofread repeatedly – can the message wait?
Sometimes it’s not enough to simply scan your text once before sending it. Go through your message slowly three or four times, focussing on each sentence, to ensure your grammar and spelling are correct. Spell-checkers can help you, but they can overlook errors from time-to-time. You may even wish to wait a while before sending your e-mail, especially if it contains sensitive information which could generate an angry or otherwise emotional response. If necessary, leave your message in your drafts folder and wait a day or two before checking it again and releasing it. Also, drafting an email on your smartphone is fine, but make sure you finish and send it on your computer to avoid embarrassing predictive text errors creeping in.If you'd like to know more about improving your writing, our FREE 10 Top Tips for Writing Well provides useful advice to help you improve your general business writing skills.