Proofreading: Ten Quick Tips

Proofreading is incredibly important, as we all know, because there is nothing as cringeworthy as looking back at something in print and seeing glaringly obvious mistakes. In fact, it’s downright embarrassing – particularly when the mistake was yours!

We can laugh at these examples, sure, but only because someone else made them. It’s not funny at all when it happens to you. It can make members of staff look bad and, more importantly, it can reflect very poorly on your business.

But with stellar proofreading skills you can go a long way to avoiding all of that.  Here are ten quick proofreading tips that have always served me well:

  1. It may sound weird but read your article backwards. Instead of skimming through what you’ve written, which you’re already very familiar with, go back. That way, you check each word, without the distraction of what follows next.
  2. Go and take a break. Put your feet up for a while and come back to your copy. Brilliant. Taking time away from your content will make errors and issues much clearer and easier to spot.
  3. Get a colleague to read it through, second opinions are worth their weight in gold.
  4. Double check those common errors, ones like “your” and “you’re”. Yes, those old beauties often catch us out, but they are VERY important to get right. For example, if you state “we can help you’re business” on a flyer… well, you might as well write “please don’t give me any work!”
  5. Just like journalists do, think about getting your facts right. They are crucial. So double and triple check any business facts, figures and especially names. Getting someone’s name wrong is, in football commentator parlance, a schoolboy error – especially when it’s your CEO.
  6. Read your text aloud – you may feel like a child at school, but it definitely works. It’s brilliant for checking how your copy flows too.
  7. Setting it Straight
    The Sentinel

    Use a spellchecker. May seem the cheaters way out but sometimes the machines do find things that we miss. Especially often hard to see things like single quotes (‘).

  8. Be old fashioned and print a hard copy. Even though we are encouraged against too much printing, to help the environment, nothing beats getting that red pen out and finding errors.
  9. Use a thesaurus to prevent yourself from repeating the same word too much. An overused word can get mighty annoying for readers and suggests you probably don’t have a good enough command of the English language to be writing this copy in the first place.  The result?  You appear amateurish, and you don’t want that!
  10. Make a list of those common words (like your/you’re, there/their, its/it’s) and look out for them in your copy. They are the ones that are the most common for making people and businesses look a little bit silly. So just check them over!
  11. Here’s a bonus tip – if you’re referring to a business in your copy, make sure you stay singular.  For instance, “CWDmedia has published a blog on proofreading tips” is correct.  CWDmedia is a single entity, not a collective.  “CWDmedia have published…” would be incorrect.  “Is/has” = good.  “Are/have” = bad!

Checking allows you to be confident in your copy so just do the right thing, proofread away!

Got any tips of your own that you don’t see listed above?  Why not share them below?

Top 10 Tips for Non-Graphic Designers

In times of financial difficulty, one of the first departments to have its budget cut is Marketing.  The job of putting together advert designs or brochures can fall to a Marketing Manager or Assistant with little or no knowledge of what it takes to put a solid layout together.  They might be armed with Adobe Creative Suite, but often it’s a case of ‘all the gear and no idea!’  

Similarly, small businesses often have someone juggling marketing, sales and who knows what else because it’s preferential to hiring a dedicated resource.

Let’s assume you’re in that position, but your boss has granted you some budget to get your design work outsourced.  It can be tricky when putting a project together to understand what your graphic designer really needs from you. But you can actually plan a lot in advance, which will save you both time and money as a result, keeping that boss of yours happy.

So here’s our top 10 musts for non-graphic designers:

  1. First up when you’re thinking about sending images over, make sure they’re high res and bear in mind the print bleed. You will lose around 3mm of image after printing and trimming, so if there are bits that you really want to see, make sure they are not going to be too close to the edges.
  2. Research the type style (fonts) you would like to use in advance. Do you want a serif or sans serif style? Bold or handwritten? Establish what kind of tone you want to set for your work and pick a typeface that reflects it.
  3. Think about sizing. Plan out how big you want your type and images to be – get the idea across at the start and it keeps it all nice and easy.
  4. Colour is very important, so remember to provide specific Pantone references if you have certain colours in mind. Then, you can be assured it will be right.  If you’re not sure with this, your graphic designer will be able to help you.
  5. Get super specific – if you want your brochure to be folded in a certain way just spell it out. Designers like specifics, and so do printers.
  6. Save your work as a PDF.  This is the best form for designers to work with.  Adobe InDesign has various presets to help you export your work to PDF.
  7. Think about what style of paper you would like your finished project to go on. There are varying finishes including matte & gloss. Which would you prefer?
  8. Time is of the essence so plan your project from your deadline backwards and add days for contingency.
  9. The most important tip of them all: PROOFREAD your copy, read it repeatedly and get your colleagues to do the same. You don’t want mistakes and neither does your designer.
  10. If you have to make any changes let people know as soon as possible, and remember – once you’ve signed off a proof, if your work comes back and there’s an error you missed while proofreading, that’s your fault – not the printer’s!

Doing the above will ensure a faster turnaround, a happy relationship between designer and client, less time/money wastage and a better quality of work.