Why you should proofread your glob

We get it. You’re not a proofreader. Who cares about a few mistakes here and there? People will keep reading, right? Wong.

Appearance isn’t everything, but it is important. In one word, appearance is credibility. And that’s why you have to proofread.

Picture of Appearences salon. Yes, the misspelling is intentional.

The picture above shows a salon near me called Appearances or, sorry, “Appearences.” They previously had it spelled right on their door and wrong on an awning above the door. Then, they renovated. Now it’s obvious—they must’ve spelled the name wrong when they named the company. Yikes.

Proofreading is part of the job

Think of proofreading like getting dressed for a job interview. Every typo is a spot of coffee on your white shirt. And just like some people need help picking out the right outfit, some people need someone else to proofread their work.

Would you hire someone who comes to an interview with his shirt half tucked and a stain dribbling down his tie? No.

Keep that in mind because most people don’t want to read a blog, an article, a book or anything with obvious (preventable) mistakes.

Common mistakes to look out for:

Loose – something wobbly, not tight. Things come loose. Loose is an adjective, not a verb.

Lose – opposite of win and find. You lose games and items. Lose is a verb.

Advise – to counsel or suggest. Advise your child to go to college. It’s a verb.

Advice – words of direction or encouragement. You give advice. Advice is a noun.

Affect – to impact in some way. This is usually a verb. The noun has more to do with observable emotion.

Effect – a result of something happening, usually a noun. Can be used as a verb meaning to bring about, as in to effect change.

Assure – you assure people to make them feel better. I assure you this is true.

Insure – think insurance here. Insure is used to indicate protecting someone or something from financial liability.

Ensure – to make certain of something, to guarantee.

Example: I assure you our SWAT team will ensure the safety of the hostages, but it’s too late to insure the bank against any building damages if they’re not covered already.

Sloppy sends people away

In the print world, mistakes can be costly. Fixing errors at the printer results in extra charges. Obviously, online is different, but that doesn’t mean it’s ok to relax your standards. Sloppy writing is great incentive for readers to bounce.

Spell check is knot your friend

Spell check is a grate tool. It catches sew many mistakes, ewe don’t really have too proof reed at all.

Get it? Don’t rely on spell check or you’ll have sentences like the above.

Grammar guidelines

In blogs, in my opinion, grammar is up to you. Writing, depending on your topic, is all about voice. It’s perfectly okay to not follow all grammar rules. In marketing, in books, and in blogs, that’s called style. Just make sure your style is readable and isn’t horrendously bad grammar.

Proofreading basics

Proofreading is not easy. Great proofreaders seem to have been born with a knack for it. I have worked as a proofreader, copy editor and writer, but I don’t like proofing my own work because I miss things. The closer you are to your material, the worse you are at proofreading it.

So, have a system. To start, you can follow these basic steps.

  1. Read through it once to make sure the words flow. In fact, read it out loud. Your ear will catch things your eyes don’t.
  2. Look at each word line by line. Reading lines from the bottom up is a good idea, especially if you know the material too well.
  3. Run spell check and see what pops up. Remember this isn’t foolproof. It’s merely one step.

If you’re still not confident with your proofreading skills, get someone else to proofread for you.

*****************

Good luck! Here are some fantastic resources to help. Grammar Girl breaks grammar rules into helpful hints that are easy to understand. Yahoo’s style guide covers more than proofreading and can help you with web writing, SEO and more.

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4 comments

  1. peggoc · July 27, 2010

    And let me add a pair of my favorite oft-confused words: its (the possessive form of “it”) and it’s (contraction for “it is”).

    • ctmarcom · July 28, 2010

      And they’re, their, and there–one of my friends brought that up today. Ah, there’s so many!!

  2. myemailaddress · August 5, 2010

    I just noticed “glob”! Thanks for the laugh. I’ve really been enjoying your globs.

    • ctmarcom · August 5, 2010

      Glad I gave you a chuckle. It seemed like a great title to me, so I’m happy you enjoyed it too.

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