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I’d like to thank my parents, Oprah and Dr. Phil: The importance of proofreading your work

Technology has made a remarkable difference in the way we conduct business today: we’re able to converse with colleagues and clients all over the world in a fraction of a second, develop products and communications quickly, and streamline processes to reduce operating costs. We heavily rely on this technology to get things done quickly and correctly. And most of the time, this is ok.

But when it comes to editing and proofing your communications for spelling, content, and accuracy, nothing compares to the human eye.

So, why should you read over your emails, websites, print ads, and other communications? Why should you consider investing in an in-house or third-party proofreader? Because not doing so will tarnish your reputation and affect your bottom line.

Simple mistakes such as “These measures affect it’s quality,” “This is where we’re at,” and “If you have any questions, please email James and I at email@email.com” not only impact the credibility you have with current clients but can rebuff potential clients that look at your materials. Proper punctuation and grammar assure clients know that you are a professional, reliable, and trustworthy source for effective communication.

Using correct spelling and punctuation also makes your meaning clear and does not distract your reader from that message, particularly if that message includes a call to action such as visiting a website. Errors in your writing can change the meaning of your message, which in turn can mean a loss in new opportunities. Retaining customers’ attention through clear writing creates trust and makes them more likely to engage with your company.

“Ok,” you say, “I may lose opportunities. So what?” Grammar, spelling, and punctuation can have an even bigger implication when it comes to operation. A misspelled word, neglected comma, or clunky sentence can lead to hefty legal fees if someone takes misguided action based on your documents.

Take the headline of this piece, for example: “I’d like to thank my parents, Oprah and Dr. Phil.” By neglecting to place a comma between “Oprah” and “and,” the sentence is saying that my parents are Oprah and Dr. Phil! Adding that second comma creates clarity so the reader understands that I am thanking Oprah and Dr. Phil in addition to my parents. Punctuation is incredibly important, and it can mean the difference between a successful business deal and an expensive lawsuit.

Lastly, grammar, spelling, and punctuation can help streamline operations internally. You again avoid miscommunication if writing is clear, as employees will spend less time trying to figure out instructions and more time on the required task.

Proofreading is important for every industry and every employee. You can do this yourself. We recommend taking a quick break to clear your mind before returning to proof. There are myriad tools to help you proofread, such as Grammarly, The Chicago Manual of Style and your company’s in-house style guide (if applicable), Purdue OWL, and Merriam-Webster. It’s also helpful to proofread a hard copy to make sure you see every element. If something sounds a bit off, reading aloud is a great way to locate the precise problem.

While it’s important to take these steps yourself, having the expertise of a trained proofreader will ensure your communications are as effective as possible. Whether you hire someone in-house or use a third party, a proofreader can increase your productivity and save you money in the long run.

And remember to thank your parents, Oprah, and Dr. Phil!


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