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Proofreading example

The email has been sent, and the DM pack has gone to print, but you notice a spelling mistake when your sample arrives.  Oh no… all that work and one little mistake has ruined it all.

It’s happened to the best of us, but everyone remembers the moment when you spot the mistake and your heart stops.

We’re all human, we all make mistakes but proofreading must not be underestimated (however boring it seems).

As the old saying goes – you never get a second chance to make a first impression.  And this couldn’t be more true when it comes to advertising. What we write could well be the only information the consumer has seen about the brand. And what impression do you think a spelling mistake makes?  A simple mistake on the email, website, DM pack or whatever it may be, could make your prospects believe you aren’t professional.

But why do we miss errors in text – is it laziness? Sometimes. But even on bad days our brains tend to work faster than you think.

When reading, we actually predict the next word we expect to see in order to form a sentence.  So while we’re reading one word, the brain is already thinking about the next – and this is where mistakes can be missed.  We also don’t read the letters individually but the words as a whole. Research suggests that as long as all the necessary letters are present and the beginning and end of the word remains unchanged, we can read it without much trouble. You may be familiar with the internet meme that demonstrates this, an example of which is below.

Proofreading made easySo what tips and tricks can you use in order to avoid typos that consumers are bound to find if we miss them. Well, here are seven to bear in mind.

  1. Make sure you have the finished document – If you make any amends, proof it again
  2. Print out what you want to proofread – You’ll probably be used to reading the copy onscreen, but we read differently on a computer and it can be more difficult to spot alignment and spacing issues. Print it out and try reading it in a different format.
  3. Find a quiet place – so you won’t be disturbed or distracted from what you are reading.
  4. Never assume – If you have any doubt about a word and its usage or spelling, stop and look it up.
  5. Read it twice and then backwards – The first time you read the document, read it to make sure it makes sense and flows properly. The second time you read it, look for spelling and grammar errors. Finally, read it backwards. You’re more likely to spot a spelling mistake reading it backwards because you aren’t reading words to form a sentence. So your brain won’t concentrating on predicting what comes next.
  6. Watch out for homonyms – A homonym is a word that’s pronounced the same as another, but may be spelled differently. Complement and compliment are good examples. Look out for these.
  7. Ask someone else to read it – It’s always helpful to get a fresh pair of eyes to look at your work.  Sometimes you can read something so much that you just become blind to it.

Some people have their own techniques but hopefully the above will help you in your quest for perfect copy. However you do it, make sure you produce something you’re proud to attach your name to.


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