Importance of proof-reading

How many times have you sent an e-mail to your contact only to see moments later in your reply that you had errors and misspellings. Well, the unfortunate event that happens in advertising is misspellings and grammatical errors. Errors in copy-writing can land your advertising on late night talk shows and in hot water with your clients. Potential customers are sometimes willing to look past the occasional “i before e” misspelling but when whole paragraphs are unreadable or nonsensical, they’ll be looking elsewhere.

There’s no shame in having someone check your work. As a creative person, I fear the red grease pencil, as it marks up an otherwise beautiful proof. The frustrating step of going back and adding an “s” here or re-typing a sentence there but at the end of the day, I know it’s necessary.

Here are some ideas for double checking your work:

1) Do don’t do your layout and proof in one day. Proof your layout the next day and look over all your body and contact info. The 12 hours away from your copy allows you to see your proof anew.

2) Give your proof to someone else to look over. Eyes that have yet to see your copy are quicker to point out errors. Admit it. After the third hour of looking at your ad copy on widget factors, your eyes tend to glaze over.

3) Use your spell check function carefully. What may be correctly spelled one way may be inadvertently “corrected” by your computer. Or, in one case, something that is spelled g-o-l-d but spelled g-o-l-f would not be flagged by your computer…don’t depend solely on spell check.

4) When in doubt consult more than one source on a spelling of a world. The Webster’s dictionary, although a very dry read, is a great source of what is “right”. If that source is of no help, try Webster’s online or Google. If it pertains to a proper noun, than you may have to send your query to your client for review. There is also many apps on iPhone and other smartphones that allow you to look words up. Purchasing a writer’s style guide is also an important reference to have; especially when you need to know the correct form of a word (lay, laying, laid) and how to punctuate certain sentences.

5) If you don’t have time to have someone check your work, read your copy backwards, from right to left…from the end to the beginning. This slows your thinking and allows you to read the words slower and carefully. Picking out errors will be easier because your brain is not filling in the blanks for you. Also, after this step, read your copy out loud. Hearing the copy spoken may also allow you to catch grammatical errors and allow you to adjust your readability.

Mistakes happen. We’re not perfect but mistakes can be costly. Don’t turn off your potential client or customer by using poorly written or misspelled copy on your next ad. An important decision about your company can be made in as little as 2 minutes.

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