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Words From Stacey

Proofreading…Editing…Boring!

Are you an English teacher? If so, then you understand that writing is a process, and that proofreading is a crucial part of the process. If you are a member of the rest of the world, then you probably think that the only thing boringer than proofreading is reading an article about the importance of proofreading. No, boringer is not a real word. Did you catch it? If so, nice proofreading!

Proofreading may be boring, but it is also important. When writing a first draft, you usually say what you want to say. Proofreading ensures that you present what you want to say in the best possible format. Proofreading is equivalent to icing a cake, wrapping a present, or wearing the right shoes, tie or jewelry with an outfit. It is the finishing touch you put on something important before you share it with the world. Still not sold on proofreading? Well, you could wear flip-flops with your tux to your next black tie affair and see how that goes. Or, maybe you will be convinced by these examples of errors that could have easily been prevented with better proofreading:

  • Way back in 1631, a reprint of the King James Bible omitted one little word, so the seventh commandment read “Thou shalt commit adultery.” This printing, referred to as The Wicked Bible, is now one of the most famous editing errors of all time.
  • In 1962, the long, complex mathematical code for the space flight of the Mariner I was missing a single hyphen, which caused the rocket to explode less than five minutes into the mission. This error cost the U.S. government somewhere in the neighborhood of $80 million, and is commonly known as the most expensive hyphen in history.

There are many other errors that could have been prevented by proofreading. These examples are less famous and less expensive, but still crucial errors that cost money and damaged reputations:

  • A computer software company slogan that read “So Fun, They Won’t Even Know Their Learning” (blog.hubspot.com) makes you wonder if this company is qualified to do the teaching.  Hopefully there are no lessons regarding homonyms.
  • Maybe even worse, the request to “Become a Partner in Pubic Education” (deadspin.com) as seen on several billboards and banners certainly shakes my confidence in our PUBLIC schools.
  • Even our nation’s leaders are not immune from unfortunate proofreading errors.  Hillary Clinton’s recent announcement that she will be running for President in 2016 stated “…she’s fought children and families all her career.” (boston.com)

Proofreading Tips

As you can see, a lack of proofreading can cost money and damage your  reputation. Here are a few tips to help you create high quality, error-free written materials:

  • Reread every word out loud. It may sound silly, but it will force you to slow down and read, rather than skim, every word.
  • Read your material several times, with different goals in mind. Obviously, you don’t want your work to contain spelling or grammatical mistakes. Other goals to keep in mind are varying sentence length, avoiding overuse of certain words, and keeping a consistent point of view.
  • If you aren’t sure about the correct usage of a word, then look it up. The answers to most proofreading questions are just a click away!

If your company does not have someone who is capable AND has the time to proofread company materials, then consider hiring WordsFound. We can polish your website, correspondence, and marketing materials to make sure that they are the best written representations of your company.

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