One of the keys to quality communications is to ensure that what you communicate is precise, effectively conveyed, grammatically correct and free of spelling and typographical errors. In our daily course of work, today, we are sending more and more written messages, largely due to the increased use of e-mail.
Keep in mind, your every written word reflects directly on you and your capabilities. Therefore, we strongly recommend that a person proofreads everything he/she writes.
To help in developing good proofreading habits for all your communications – from e-mails to reports and briefs – here are ten tips to ensure you write more effectively. When you proofread:
1. Minimize distractions and interruptions to focus on work before you. Get yourself in a quiet space – mentally and physically.
2. Force yourself to slow down and concentrate. Do not focus on sentences and meanings, but rather on each word and character — letters, punctuation, special characters and spaces.
3. Read backwards – this can help you focus on the words and not get distracted by meaning.
4. Proof any text in all caps separately and more painstakingly. Typos and misspellings are much more difficult to see in all caps.
5. If there’s an outline or table of contents, check it separately. Otherwise you’ll get caught up in the text and miss errors.
6. Proof the most prominent text separately. Ironically, the most prominent text – titles, e-mail subject lines – is often the most easily overlooked.
7. Do not try to find every mistake in one pass. Read through the material several times, looking for different problems each time, such as: typos and misspellings / easily confused words (e.g., “to” for “too” and “your” for “you’re”) / ambiguity and inconsistencies / formatting problems / factual errors / missing words.
8. Print out the pages for one final read-through. Proofread on screen and on paper.
9. Proofread online ensuring you proof using different platforms and in different browsers. Check the text on a Mac and PC. Check spacing issues and punctuation when cutting and pasting into e-mail programs…
10. If possible, ask another person to proofread your writing.