When you're writing copy for your website and marketing materials, proofreading your content may be the last thing on your mind – particularly if you're on a deadline. But paying more attention to the words you're using could help to maintain and improve the perception people have of your business.
Spelling mistakes, grammatical errors and poorly-constructed sentences can make your business look unprofessional, which will only encourage your potential customers to look for other - more professional - companies to spend their money with.
Mistakes can also cost you money. Business owners sometimes waste whole print runs because of bad spelling, punctuation or grammar that spellcheck didn't pick up. Mistakes can be more easily and cheaply rectified on a web page – but only if you spot them!
Here are some handy tricks that professional proofreaders use, which should help you pick up errors before your customers do.
- Make sure you are in a quiet place, free from distractions
- Work from a print out if possible
- Use a red pen
- Read out loud
- Cover up the line below
- If you're using a computer, use spellcheck but DON'T RELY ON IT!
- Read backwards sentence by sentence
- Read backwards word by word
- If you can get someone to help, get them to check it too
- If you can get someone to help, have them read it out while you follow the text
- Double check numbers too, e.g. £100000 instead of £1000000
COMMON MISTAKES TO LOOK OUT FOR
- Spacing between words – are there any spaces missing or are there too many?
- Letters accidentally typed twice e.g. Councill
- Words accidentally typed twice
- Full stops missing
- Missing close bracket
- Writing numbers: 1 to 9 should be written as numbers. Numbers from ten onwards should be written as words
- Make sure quotes and speech are in speech marks
- Make sure proper names, places and brand names start with a capital letter
- Look out for missing or extra commas
- Look out for full stops used incorrectly
- Make sure brackets are closed
- Add speech marks where necessary
- No need for double punctuation e.g. !!
Incorrect punctuation can be dangerous...
“Let's get ready to eat, Granny!”
“Let's get ready to eat Granny!”
You can see why punctuation is important if you try to make sense of this sentence which has no punctuation at all:
perhaps you dont always need to use commas full stops colons etc to make sentences clear when i am in a hurry tired cold or lazy i sometimes leave out punctuation marks grammar is stupid i can write without it and dont need it my uncle Harry once said he was not very clever and i never understood a word he wrote to me i think ill learn some punctuation not too much enough to write to Uncle Harry he needs some help
Now let's see if punctuating it makes a difference...
Perhaps you don't always need to use commas, full stops, colons etc. to make sentences clear. When I am in a hurry, tired, cold or lazy I sometimes leave out punctuation marks.
"Grammar is stupid! I can write without it and don't need it," my uncle Harry once said. He was not very clever and I never understood a word he wrote to me. I think I'll learn some punctuation - not too much, enough to write to Uncle Harry. He needs some help!
Get in touch if your marketing copy could do with the once-over from our eagle-eyed team of proofreaders!