Imagine the horror of spotting a spelling mistake in your latest newsletter or worse – you get something really important wrong – here’s what you need to do to avoid it happening.
Many people either don’t proofread at all or do it far too quickly but either way, we’re often told by clients that they hate proofreading. Admittedly it is a pretty dull job – there’s no denying that but it is a necessary and important job nonetheless.
Amongst many other factors, proofreading can make the difference between a printed newsletter looking professional and one that isn’t read at all as mistakes make it look amateurish.
Proof Reading Vs Editing
Please note that proofreading is quite different to editing – editing relates to making changes to the text in terms of content – removing sentences and / or paragraphs – in fact, anything big. Where proofreading is where spelling and grammatical checks are carried out and errors, typos and consistency issues are spotted and addressed.
Just so that you know, when it comes to printing your newsletters, we don’t send anything to print until we have your final confirmation that you’re happy to go ahead and for us to send your order into production. But before sending your finished newsletter into the print queue we ask you to carefully check and approve the artwork and you will no doubt agree that it is important that there are no mistakes, typos or omissions.
There’s nothing worse than a glaring typo that can have a negative impact on the reader or incorrect event dates or the wrong website or email address for example – the cost implications of having the error fixed as we have seen, can be very painful.
Many clients find that having at least one other person check things over helps to spot anything that may be incorrect. However, if you don’t feel comfortable doing this yourself, then there are many professional external proof reading companies who will not only proofread your newsletter text for spelling and grammatical errors but they can also be employed to make your text more effective.
In terms of newsletter content, they can support you by providing a more persuasive style of writing as well as correcting spelling, grammar, punctuation and appropriate jargon.
A key element to a successful newsletter is a flowing, clear and precise collection of articles that are easy to read and understand.
Here are our five top proofreading tips:
Read It Slowly
When proofreading your newsletter, first read it carefully and slowly to ensure that it communicates your message clearly, succinctly and in the correct brand tone. If the article title or indeed the initial paragraph do not clearly highlight the intent and direction of the rest of the article or if the following paragraphs do not flow naturally from thereon, you should consider rewriting the parts that do not adhere to your objectives.
Take an Objective View
Even if you have been writing, rewriting, editing and checking the same article(s) for a period of time, try to take an objective view. Think of it as though the article has been written by somebody else and this is the first time you’ve read it.
By the same token, if the text does indeed belong to somebody else and you’re proofreading it, take a hard, independent view of it. Heading through your checklist of spelling, grammar, typos, dates, times, locations contact names and details etc. make sure to check and then double check them again, just to be sure.
Word By Word
Another idea we have learnt along the way is to look at each word individually rather than reading an entire sentence in one go. The theory being that your mind can often predict the next word and the next and in doing so, you will be more likely to miss something.
This is even more likely to happen if you have written the article yourself or if you have read the same article multiple times. Here’s a way to illustrate this:
Rather than reading:
This year we have made a major investment into product development.
Try reading it like this:
This. Year. We. Have. Made. A. Major. Investment. Into. Product. Development.
This is intended to make the process more foolproof and should make spotting mistakes easier.
Take Regular Breaks
Proofreading can be really time-consuming – especially if you have lots of articles within your newsletter or if there are fewer but longer or more complex articles or features.
There’s nothing you can do about the length of time it takes to do it properly but if you find your eyes start jumping, your mind goes a bit fuzzy or you can’t remember what you’ve read and words begin to blend in to one another, we suggest you take a break and return to it later. If you rush this crucial part of the process, then you will be sure to get it done more quickly but you are almost certainly going to miss something.
Old Ways Are The Best?
We’ve been doing this a long time and this one isn’t the most tech-savvy approach but it has certainly worked in the past. Sometimes you can’t see an error that is staring you in the face so how can you be sure to avoid it?
Try printing the text out at a much larger size – pump up the text size and make it really big and see how it looks and reads then. You could even try printing on much larger sheets of paper and you will often see things you hadn’t seen when they were much smaller.
Admittedly it doesn’t work for everyone in every situation but we have found that we have been able to spot errors this way that we hadn’t seen using every other method.
Whichever method you choose or if you decide to combine them all, taking proofreading seriously is a very wise step to getting your newsletter to be appreciated by recipients. After all, a poorly written newsletter cannot communicate its message successfully to the reader, however well designed it is.
However, when done thoroughly and correctly, proofreading can make the difference between success and failure of your printed newsletter campaigns.