Wednesday Web Tip August 1, 2012
I will be sending a quick Web Tip to you on the first Wednesday of each month, or whenever I have a tip to share! The tip will be short, important to know and easy to implement.
Proofreading Tips - Go Beyond the Spell Checker
Your Web site represents your business. Good grammar and spelling matter.
Errors give the impression of sloppiness and carelessness. Visitors may view your business in the same way and question your competence.
Most of us use a spell checker and many programs have them built in. Unfortunately, the spell checker is limited and should be used only as the first step in the review process. For example, it will not catch words that sound the same, but mean something different (to, two and too).
Sometimes if a word is considered to be an error by the spell checker, it will suggest a word to substitute. Carefully review the words the spell checker picks for you. I know of one business person who did not follow that advice and ended up apologizing to clients for any incontinence (instead of inconvenience) an error may have caused!
Here are some Proofreading Tips to try:
- Read your copy out loud. You will hear the difference between what you meant to write and what you actually wrote.
- Have someone else read it. Or read it to you.
- Read it backwards to focus on the spelling of words outside the context of a sentence.
- Proof for different types of mistakes individually. For example, do one proof for spelling, another for punctuation, etc.
- Print it out and read it. Things look different on a computer screen. Mark the changes on the hard copy, and then correct them in the computer.
- Remember to check proper names.
- Double check little words that are often interchanged. Examples are: or, of, it, as, is and if.
- Take a break in between writing and proofreading. Set your work aside for a period of time or read something else. This will clear your head and help you focus on what actually is on the page, instead of what you expect to read. I like to write at the end of the day and edit first thing in the morning. Hopefully with some sleep in between!
- Keep a list of the typical mistakes you make repeatedly. Do a special check just for those mistakes.
I realize we're human and mistakes happen. However, our goal is always to express our ideas in a clear, intelligent and organized way. This will help convince our customers and prospective customers that we provide our services in the same way.
Here is a clever poem that makes a great case for going beyond the spell checker!