If you are involved in business, “writer” is one of the many hats you wear. On any given day, you need to communicate effectively in writing – from texts and emails, to proposals and contracts, to a brochure or website content.
When the content is important, it is wise to have a second set of eyes proofread your work before you publish.
Proofreading and writing are separate, yet inseparable, disciplines. Writers intend to convey information, ideas or instruction in words. Proofreaders ensure the written words actually communicate what the writer intended. To achieve this, proofreaders must apply appropriate rules of grammar, spelling and punctuation, while being sensitive to style, tone and content.
Writers make mistakes. Proofreaders save our butts.
Unless you are President of the United States, you probably don’t have the luxury of proofreaders looking over your shoulder, assessing word-for-word every communiqué in real time. Fortunately, readers of your texts, emails and letters are generally forgiving. They will often let you know if a message is confusing or ambiguous, presenting the opportunity to clarify and beg forgiveness. (I find Autocorrect to be a convenient scapegoat.)
However, readers have higher expectations for the veracity and integrity of other communications content. When perusing websites or marketing materials, I am often floored by the volume of grammatical, spelling and punctuation errors they contain. Readers may dismiss a typo or two in a 50-word email, but on a website’s home page errors reflect a lack of professionalism and attention to detail. Worse, a prospective client is unlikely to provide this feedback. She’ll just move on to a competitor’s site that better meets her expectations.
So, the lesson of the day is: Learn from the feedback your clients and colleagues provide on your daily communications. And, for materials that need to stand the test of time, employ a second set of eyes (and perhaps third and fourth…) to ensure you’ve clearly expressed your ideas, information and instruction.
Sometimes, as with this blog, I act as both writer and proofreader. That’s when I get in trouble. It is probable that some errors are posted here. In advance, I humbly apologize, and invite your gentle comments.