Thank you for hanging in there, if you have read this far! Apparently my lack of useful grammar and correct spelling has not scared you. Or perhaps, you kept reading because you could not believe I was writing about proofreading when my own writing was ripe with mistakes. Well, prank over, have a good laugh and continue reading, please.
As I was saying earlier, whether or not you proofread your articles says a lot about how you view your readers. It sends a message that you’re most likely not trying to send, without you even knowing that you’re sending it. It shows unprofessionalism, lack of care and lack of basic intelligence, and as a business owner, the last thing you want is for your potential clients to pass you by because you come across as lacking in what they need to get the job done.
So, the next time you hit the “send” or “publish” button, print out a copy of what you have written and read it out aloud to yourself. This will help you to spot those mistakes you wouldn’t have otherwise spotted while reading it on the screen. I’m not sure what it is, but I’m able to spot errors better on a print-out than I am able to on the computer screen. Somehow, my eyes just seem to be trained to seek out errors on paper so that I can see where I have used “cause” when I meant to use its correct form “course,” or vice versa.
Reading your paper out aloud will also allow you to follow your train of thought a little more clearly, and help you analyze whether the reading flows or needs a few paragraphs re-structured. Because people are prone to write the way they speak, a free flow of words is not always the best way to present a written piece of correspondence. There must be a difference between the way we speak and the way we write.
Proofreading will also help you to spot errors in punctuation. Are you missing commas, periods, or closed parentheses? Punctuation can be the difference between “Rachel Ray finds inspiration in cooking her family and dog” and “Rachel Ray finds inspiration in cooking, her family, and dog.” The first sentence is exactly what appeared on the cover of an issue of Tails Magazine. What an embarrassment that must have caused them when they noticed the mistake after the publication had already reached several of their readers. Or picture this snafu made by Goodwill on one of their billboards, which read: “Thank You! Your donation just helped someone. Get a job. Amazing.” Versus this one: “Thank you! Your donation just helped someone get a job. Amazing.”
Obviously, as you can see, the proper use of punctuations and proofreading can mean the difference between earning the respect of your readers versus earning their ridicule. And they’ll never take you seriously after that.
Which is why I cannot stress this enough: In order to send the right message as an individual, writer, business owner or website owner, you must ALWAYS read through what you have written before hitting that “send” “print” or “publish” button, because whether we wish to acknowledge it or not, our readers are judging our intelligence and seriousness based on what they read from us. (Just as I am sure most of you would have thought I was a joke of an editor if the errors running through that first paragraph, run through the rest of this article.) A few minutes to proofread will save you a great deal of regret and embarrassment later. So please, please, please, proofread your work before you send it out. Or, if you are too tired to do so, or you simply need help, hire a proofreader to do it for you.