We All Do It

wordsIt’s tough enough to sell your writing skills without tripping yourself up with bad spelling, clumsy sentences, and atrocious grammar. We all have a blind spot when it comes to our own spelling, and even the old tried-and-true “read it aloud” trick doesn’t always work the way it should.

On every page of a well-established content supplier, you’ll read: “Let’s discuss your content needs formulate a content marketing proposal.”

On another site that wants to sell you writing services:”A technical writing company with a specialty in Internet, telecommunications, and software development topics.”

And most infamously, in a crucial political race on the east coast, an advertisement for Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley’s senatorial campaign misspelled the name of the state. According to LegalNewsline.com, “After a three-person debate Monday night, an attack ad on Republican state Sen. Scott Brown paid for by the state’s Democratic Party spelled it ‘Massachusettes.’ The ad was ‘authorized by Martha Coakley for Senate and approved by Martha Coakley.”

Yes, we all do it. Unfortunately, we all seem to do it right where you need everything to be PERFECT. There’s probably even one or two lurking in this post somewhere. Or did I put them in on purpose to see if you’re still with me?

Spell check is only useful about half the time. The other 50 percent requires a keen eye, attention to detail, and some extra caution when you’re about to put your words out there in a make-or-break situation. When I need to be dead certain about every single word, I do three things:

–read the piece aloud first
–print and go over it line by line with a ruler
–proofread the document backwards starting with the last word.

It’s not foolproof, but it helps, and I have much more peace of mind when the work goes out the door. What do you do?

–Joe Wallace

4 thoughts on “We All Do It”

  1. I have no scientific evidence of this as a psychologically valid technique, but I’m utterly convinced proof-reading your own work is much more effective when done in a different location to where you wrote it.

  2. Oooh I like that John! It also partially explains why I seem to have more success proofreading when I change the “view” on my document to 2 page view. The different look makes it seem like its a different piece than the one I wrote a few hours ago.

  3. Proofreading backwards is one of my favorites, as long as it’s a short enough piece that your eyes don’t go haywire.

    John’s “different location” concept makes sense to me, and leads me to my failsafe tactic: I know it’s not enviro-friendly to print stuff out, but if I have something that requires absolute precision, I find that I will catch errors on paper that I don’t see on screen.

Comments are closed.