Proof it!

If you’re writing an email, essay, website, promotional copy or anything else, apart from being engaging, it’s essential that your text is free from any errors.  We’ve all come to rely on spellcheck however in reality, it’s just not enough. The solution is to proofread any piece of writing and detailed below are 7 tips to help make your proofreading more effective:

1          Print out your finished article and proof from a printed sheet of paper.  It can really help and even more so if you use coloured paper, such as yellow or pink.  It’s been proven that people with dyslexic tendencies struggle less to read from coloured paper.  It can be very difficult to spot mistakes on screen and if you also read aloud, it can help pick up on those missing small words that your mind can think it’s seen even when they’re not there!

2          The misuse of apostrophes can be the most problematic issue faced in our quest for good grammar!  The meanings of ‘it’s’ and ‘its’ are very different and although we associate an apostrophe with ‘belonging to’, confusingly, this rule doesn’t apply when using ‘its’.  Equally, apostrophes should never be used to signify a plural.

3          Homonyms are words that share the same pronunciation– or spelling – but have very different meanings.  For example, using ‘principle’ instead of ‘principal’ or ‘accept’ instead of ‘except’ can dramatically change the meaning of a sentence.

4          Punctuation such as a comma is invaluablein making sense of a phrase. For example, ‘let’s eat Grandma’ means something far more sinister than ‘let’s eat, Grandma’!

5          Numbers such as those used in phone numbers or monetary values need to be checked very carefully.  No one wants to have misrepresented the cost of a product or service or directed their customer to the local takeaway by giving the wrong phone number!

6          Focus is key when proofreading.  Sounds obvious but your mind can readily mislead you when reading text and assume it’s seen ‘your’ when ‘you’ has been typed or the words, ‘an’ or ‘of’ when they’re just not there.  Make sure you give full concentration to the piece you’re proofreading – no phone, no television, no conversation, no distraction.

7          If all else fails… get someone else to read it.  A fresh pair of eyes will read copy in a very different way from those of the author who knows exactly what he/she meant to say but hasn’t always typed it!