It’s very easy to point out mistakes that other companies make in their marketing material. Heck, even we have been known to point that bony finger of condemnation sometimes. Whether it’s a Facebook ad, a blog post, a print ad, or a brochure, grammar and spelling are signals of quality in the marketing world. We have often waxed poetic here on our blog about the importance of proofreading, but today we thought we’d offer a few tips on how to maximize the effectiveness of your proofreading efforts. We’d love it if you added some tips that work for you as well!
1. Read backwards
One of the hardest things about proofreading is that your brain tells your eyes what to expect to read. Have you ever seen that online meme that looks like gibberish yet you can quickly adapt and read it perfectly? If your eyes and brain can make sense out of what should be nonsense, imagine what tricks you can experience when reading regular English with just a few typos. To help avoid reading based on expectation, it can be helpful to read each word out of order. You of course want to read the whole thing in the regular way first to make sure it makes sense, but reading the content backwards helps you isolate each individual word and look for spelling errors.
2. Kick out the author
If you think your eyes can play tricks on you as a reader, just imagine what can happen if you are the writer trying to proofread your own work. After all, you know exactly what you want the words to say, and your eyes will confirm that you wrote exactly that. If possible, try to make sure that the proofreader is not the writer. In fact, the fresher the eyes, the better chance you will have at catching mistakes.
3. Don’t forget the obvious
Before you print out your work, do the easiest step – run spellcheck on your computer. Even though this isn’t a perfect tool, it can help give you a head start. Sometimes you can catch grammar mistakes that way as well. Another trick is to do a “find all” for important brand names or trade names. Are they all spelled the same way?
4. Ask yourself questions
We actually created a proofreading library for our clients. Patent numbers, trademarks, and other important information is all there. When we proofread we ask ourselves things relating to that information. “Should that have a registered mark after it?” “Is that patent number the right one?” If you work in a very large company it may be a good idea to write out these questions as part of a proofreading checklist.
5. Read out loud with a proofreading partner
We always proofread in pairs. One person reads the final product and the second person reads along with what our clients have approved. This accomplishes a few things. Reading out loud helps you find places where you stumble over the language being used. If it is not making sense to your ear, it won’t make sense to someone else trying to read it (most likely). Having a second person involved of course doubles your chances of finding mistakes. Finally, reading in pairs makes the “asking questions” step a little less awkward. People may look at you funny if you ask yourself questions and then answer.
These are some of our tips and tricks. What do you do to make sure your content is flaw-free?
Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/terryfreedman/1341295412/ via Creative Commons