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Friday, December 08, 2006

Five proven proofreading tips

A client once asked me for proofreading tips that she could share with her marketing staff. I decided to post them here for the blogging community, as well.

1. Have anyone with writing/proofreading responsibility acquire and use a copy of: The Associated Press STYLEBOOK and Briefing on Media Law. ISBN 0-7382-0740-3. Last version I purchased was a mere $17. A terrific and easy-to-use reference for making/confirming decisions on capitalization, abbreviation, spelling, numerals, usage and much more. An absolute must for every writer and proofreader.

2. Proof by reading text backwards -- end to beginning. This forces the proofreader to notice/read every word individually -- an especially great way to catch misspellings.

3. Create, update and use a "style sheet" that covers the details missing in most corporate ID or branding manuals.

Example: How do we consistently present our phone number? Do we use hyphens or dots to break up the numerals? Parentheses around the area code? Etc.

Example: Use a comma before the third item in a simple series? (The flag was red, white and blue.)

4. Use built-in spellcheckers last, not first. Consider them backups only.

5. Proofread in teams, when appropriate. Person A reads the text on the layout/proof/screen aloud, verbalizing everything that appears in the text.

Example: Take the sentence "I love dogs." Person A reads aloud the following: "opening quote," "capital I" "I love dogs" "period" "closing quote." Person B silently follows along, reading from the original word processing doc that was used to create the type on the layout, printer's proof or computer screen. This catches any differences between the two "documents," and puts two sets of eyes on the proofreading task.

Hope these help.



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