Quick proofreading tips for businesses
Catch errors before you make one you regret
As the year comes to a close, projects are often rushed out the door before the holidays. When time is constrained, and everyone is busy, mistakes can happen. The following are some quick proofreading tips to help you avoid those silly mistakes.
🔚 1. Read it back to front
My writing instructor in fourth year university taught us that the best way to proofread a document is to read it one sentence at a time, starting at the end and working your way to the beginning. Since you can’t really get into the rhythm of a piece while reading backwards, you’re less likely to fill in a missing word or overlook an error. It will feel disjointed and really force you to focus. If you have the tendency to omit words in your writing, do this out loud and point to each word as you speak.
😴 2. Sleep on it
When you’ve reviewed a document so many times, even poor writing can start to sound “right” to you because you’re used to hearing it. Take a break, sleep on it, and then review it with a fresh pair of eyes. When you’re not anticipating what you’re about to read, you’re less likely to fill in missing words or overlook an error as mentioned above.
🖥 3. Change the context
When you don’t have the luxury of being able to review your copy at a later time, try changing the context of it. Ever notice when you work on copy in one program, then paste it into an email or another program, you suddenly catch errors that you didn’t see before? Changing the context of your copy can give you a fresh perspective on it. It can also help with the creative process. When I work on a project I always come up with new ideas as soon as I make a change like this. I might go from brainstorming on paper, to typing it out in Word, to finalizing in a design program. Reviewing it in the finished context forces us to be more critical of our writing and we quickly see what could be improved. Even something as simple as changing the font or printing it out can do the trick.
🎬 4. Read it again
When you’re reviewing material before it goes out, read it again. All of it. Even if there was only a small change. It’s annoying, I know. But it’s a necessary step that helps keep your work error-free.
And remember, copywriting extends beyond marketing materials — I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen errors in the social media posts and even email signatures of businesses. 😳
Beyond good business practices, I love the English language and value quality writing. I began my career as an advertising copywriter, and this is a service I’ve continued to offer my clients. Because of my background I can’t help but read everything I design, so I often notice errors and make copy suggestions even on design projects.
I recommend hiring a copywriter and/or proofreader for all communication materials your company produces. They can clarify and elevate your message, and catch unfortunate errors before it’s too late. If you’re truly at a loss for time or don’t have the budget, hopefully the tips in this article will help you avoid a mistake you’ll ragret [sic]. 😜 👊