Proofread, Proofread, and Proofread Again

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Featured image for 'proofread' blog - red background, white font and image of a pencil with the font saying 'proofreading

Why is it that typos are so obvious once the print job is complete?  We don’t know but we have seen rather a lot of embarrassing or just plain daft printing blunders in our time at Solopress. 

I appreciate that mistakes can be particularly difficult to spot so here are a few simple tricks of the trade to ensure all errors are identified and corrected.

proof-reading

To begin proofreading, use your machine, laptop or phone’s spell checker to eliminate  any simple typos. Remember to check that the computer has the correct regional language selected i.e. UK vs. US.  Computers don’t always get it right, so having a printed dictionary to hand is also useful.

Each reading of the document should be focused on a different aspect. First, read the document to see if it is complete with all the information needed, this could mean dates and times for an event on a flyer or thorough explanations of services in a brochure, either way make sure it is all there.

Next, read the document to see how it sounds. Listen to the sound of the voice in your head or read out loud to see if the sentences make sense as a whole. The tone and flow of a document are important to ensure the audience remains interested and receives the right impression of the company or promotion. During this part of the process check your past, present and future tense, and ensure you’re not switching between third and first person where it’s not right to do so.

A third reading can be used to identify other spelling and punctuation mistakes. Before this reading is undertaken it can be helpful to read something else in between to enable the mind to return fresher. A top tip is to read the document backwards when checking for spelling mistakes.

Finally, check all content outside of the main body of the text or that which is formatted differently such as headers and footers. Often this ‘outside’ text is additional information such as telephone numbers, dates, company names etc. and these items can be easily overlooked.

At least one of these readings should be done in hard copy as mistakes can be missed on a computer screen.

Here are some of the most common mistakes:

  • Homophones – these are words which sound the same but have a different spelling and meaning. Right and write, deer and dear.
  • Leaving out silent letters – Febuary and February, lisen and listen.
  • Adding an Ending – mistakes can be made when changing the tense of a word by adding an ending. Hopeing and Hoping or Submiting and Submitting.
  • Missing words – most commonly with smaller words, to, it, is, of, a, etc. Or sometimes these words are used incorrectly in exchange for one another.
  • Ordering of letters – the most common of typos is for letters to be the wrong way round.
  • Punctuation – apostrophes are the most common punctuation mistake. They should be used in two ways, for the possessive e.g. Peter’s ball, and to replace missing letters (a contraction) e.g. it’s or don’t.
  • Amalgamating words – some words should be separate ‘a lot’ rather than ‘alot
  • Verbs – adapt the verb to a singular or plural subject for example ‘I was’ and ‘we were’ not ‘I were’ and ‘we was’.
  • Should of/should have – the latter is correct.

Once the document has become free of all its mistakes and is as correct as it can possibly be it is ready to go to print. All you need now is a high quality printing company to match your high quality proofreading…

6 COMMENTS

  1. I’d love to read some psychological research as to why typos are so easy to spot after the fact and always the first thing other people notice almost instantly.

  2. Sounding old school; but is it because we rely on computers so much that these mistakes are happening? Spelling nowadays seems as if it has taken a back seat. I can only empathise with Emma regarding her comment on asking if people meant their mistakes!

  3. It’s strange how different text appears in hard copy compared with on-screen. I find it essential to proof in hard copy, and like to use train journeys for this purpose.

    I was always entertained when I arrived at Cambridge Station to see the errors corrected in posters on the station – there was long debate about whether “Free Bike Hire” was possible – is it still hire if no money changes hands?

  4. I triple check all the writing on my social media accounts before hitting “post”, I’m always mortified if I find a typo!

  5. I used to run a print co & proofreading was the bane of my life! Could never quite believe the mistakes on negs from suppliers. Having to gently ask customers if they intended their own mistakes was a bit of minefield too!

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