Business Proofreading Tips
Alex Painter reports:
"[M]ost organizations appreciate their importance. When mistakes do occur, it's rarely because people don't care. More often than not, it's a combination of a lack of skills and inadequate processes that gets in the way. So here are five tips that will help you to avoid those embarrassing errors...[C]reate a house style for your organization...[T]his is really about consistency, and it's especially important in larger organizations, where brochures, catalogues, websites and ads may be written by teams of different people, some from external organizations, such as advertising or PR agencies. The point is that, by and large, all these communications should share a single 'voice'. They should read pretty much as though they were all written by the same person...Much depends on the audience and the medium. But there are some basic things that should always be consistent...People often check the fine details meticulously, while missing mistakes that, on the face of it, should be obvious. So, for example, when you're proofreading advertising copy, pay particular attention to headlines. It's all too easy to skip over them, assuming that there can't be a mistake in the headline because someone would have noticed...Very broadly, proofreading is mainly about checking for mistakes that might have crept in between the editing stage and the design / typesetting stage. The proofreader is also expected to pick up clear errors that were missed during editing. Copy-editing is also about picking up errors, but in addition it can involve rewriting parts of the text (e.g. to make it clearer). Why is it so important to know the difference? It's partly to do with drawing a line under the editing process...but it's also to ensure that each task is done by the person best suited to it...It's important to understand that changes late in document production are likely to be more costly than those made early on...[I]t's worth getting copy and design signed off separately. Most organizations require a sign-off from a senior member of staff, such as a director. Often this happens only right at the end of the process, when a printer's proof is available. If that director then decides to make sweeping changes, it can create terrible headaches, as well as risk missing deadlines and exceeding budgets...When you read back something you wrote, you tend to see what you intended to write, not what is actually on the page. It's therefore easy to miss errors in your own writing, no matter how careful you are. If at all possible, find somebody else to check your writing."
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