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Why is Proofreading so important?

By Naomi Worden 14th October 2021
Crossword showing proofreading keywords as dice

I seem to have become the ‘go to’ person for any proofreading in the office and even have a mug dedicated to my efforts.

Quite often pieces of communication that we as a business distribute have been through multiple rounds of proofreading before they reach me and yet I still manage to pick up on spelling errors or make rewording suggestions. This is usually because those working on that content are too close to it and therefore it’s harder to spot issues.

We had a discussion in the office about how and why this was the case and so I decided to write a blog to help others.

Typos and spelling mistakes can give a completely different meaning to your copy

This can cause misunderstandings and send the wrong message. Homophones, where words sound the same but have a different meaning, are a good example of this. When used incorrectly they can give a completely different meaning within your business communication. A classic example is confusing accept and except which in a business context, can give a very different meaning to the message you are trying to get across and could have far-reaching consequences.

Professionalism and confidence in your business

You want to set the right impression to the outside world and demonstrate attention to detail, giving potential clients confidence that you are taking care in what you deliver. As an example, I recently received an invite from a prospective high school for an open evening which contained a grammatical error. That one mistake (which hundreds of parents will have now seen) certainly did not fill me with confidence and left a negative impression.

Avoids embarrassment.

A good example is spelling names incorrectly, whether they are employees or clients, this can come across as disrespectful.

Reflects well on the person/business.

A well-written and error-free piece of copy helps promote a positive perception of the company.

Top Tips for proofreading

  • Always get someone else to proofread your work; you work too closely with it to see your own mistakes. Alternatively, take a break and return to it later to re-read. 
  • Read it out loud. This can really help with identifying where punctuation is required and ensuring it flows well. There are tools you can use to have the computer read your text back to you.
  • Be careful if using auto complete functions to ensure this is actually what you wanted/intended to say. 
  • Online tools are increasingly more accurate in identifying spelling and grammar errors but don’t rely on them fully. A sense check completed by a human is also required.
  • Use tools built into your software. Our CMS, Doddle, includes spelling and grammar checks to help ensure your online website content is free from errors. A library of company-specific terms can also be added to prevent these being repeatedly flagged. In addition to this, we also have review processes for content to be moderated before publication. This helps ensure errors are captured before they are visible on the front end.
  • Use external organisations to assist. We work with our clients to help proofread and rewrite website content. This helps ensure the websites and software we deliver not only look and feel professional, they also read that way.

Now I’m just waiting for the comments to come in, picking up errors in this blog!