Four Simple Steps to Sharpen Your Proofing Skills…

and keep your good reputation intact.

Your attention is to produce, print on paper and in digital, and publish absolute perfection. You’ve assembled a thought-provoking newsletter, maybe a sales letter, a clever infographic, or a great-looking white paper for content marketing at a trade show within the next month.

You’ve personally read it through a dozen times – just to be sure of your accuracy. And everyone in the office has read it at least once. So, you know it must be right.

But when your 5,000 copies come back from the printer, and you pull out your first piece from the carton, there it is. The headline at the top – the one you were so proud of: “HERE’S YOU FINAL CHANCE TO GET OUR NEW PRODUCT WITH FREE INSTALLATION!”

How could you have missed it? Just one letter, “R.” But it makes all the difference between ridicule and respect.

Mistakes, no matter how small, can soil your reputation.

The truth is, whenever you put anything in print or digital, your reputation is on the line. Not just errors involving pricing and numbers, but mistakes anywhere in your document or website, can have a negative effect on your bottom line – and your success.

“I used a spellchecker,” you say. So, I know it’s got to be perfect!” But, oh how wrong you are.

Sure, a spellchecker catches blatant spelling errors. But what about the time you typed form when you meant from? Or (as noted in our headline example) when you typed you when you meant your? The instead of theyOf instead of off?

So, start sharpening your proofreading skillset. Your computer just doesn’t know what your fingers forgot. It doesn’t know that you’ve typed the date of your next fundraising banquet as happening in Mar when you meant to type May.

And if you forgot to include the actual date or time of the event, or that all important phone number, your computer isn’t going to remind you (Yet)! Phone numbers, dates, times – no matter how much memory your computer has, it just can’t comprehend these kinds of misprints.

When you keep these four simple proofreading guidelines in mind, you’re on your way to producing perfect documents – every time.

Here are four simple steps to refine your proofreading.

  1. Give up your ego. NEVER assume you’ve caught everything. You haven’t. You’re too close to it. And everyone makes mistakes. Be willing to admit there may be some blunders in your final draft, or printer’s proof. Take criticism with grace. Realize that others comments, even if you disagree, will contribute valuable feedback that will eventually improve the overall quality of your work and save you embarrassment as well as the possible cost of re-printing.
  2. Image is everything. In the end when you put forth your best possible professional image, you will instill greater confidence in anyone who reads what you’ve written. The better the impression you make, the more you’ll appear to your audience, and the more success you’ll garner from your endeavor.
  3. Do it just one more time! In other words, double proof, triple proof, proof again… and proof one last time. In addition to someone who works with you, always try to have someone else proofread for you – someone has never read your document before and preferably someone who knows nothing about it. The idea is to get someone who can look at what you’ve written with a fresh, objective eye.
  4. Finally, neatness counts! As you proofread, you need to communicate the errors, omissions, and problems you discover. Use a good, thin, red pen or a sharp red pencil. Do not use a regular pencil, or a blue or black pen. They’re extremely difficult to see and read.

Be as utterly neat as you possibly can. Use sticky notes if they make things easier to follow. Be thoroughly clear and concise with any comments or queries.


Learn the standard Proofreaders’ Marks at Grammarly or do your own search. Mark changes in the margins as well as the text, so that the typist’s eyes are easily alerted.

Another how-to guide using direct marketing and mail for a #SmallBiz success during 2017. Sign up for more #SmallBiz success to receive our monthly email newsletter now!

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It’s All About Copywriting Attracting Customers

About MarketingDoc 397 Articles
30+ years in marketing. 30+ years as a small business owner. Love music, photography, gardening and just about anything outdoors!

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