Why proofread? Surely that is a waste of time and, if you commission someone to proofread it for you, a waste of money as well. Many people might be tempted to omit the proofreading stage before releasing their document or publication, perhaps to save money, or maybe to save time, but is that a wise ‘saving’ to make? Consider the following proofreading scenarios.
You have just finished writing that important report for your manager. A very important report as it could clinch the prospect of securing new business and getting that long-awaited promotion you are in competition for with two other analysts. You have run the spellchecker over it and you are pleased it picked up a few errors you had not expected. Unfortunately, it did not pick up several other errors, including that you had used casual instead of the intended causal, bums instead of burns, you had written asses instead of assess, and worst of all you addressed it to your boss as manger instead of manager. When the report lands back on your desk with a few red circles round the offending words and phrases you can almost visualize those promotion prospects swirling around the toilet pan and round the bend.
You have just sent out a brochure and proposal to a very important prospective client, the only problem is you failed to spot that the terms and conditions section of the proposal is missing several key clauses, probably a whole page – something you should have immediately picked up on if checking the numbering sequence of the clauses. Also, the financial projections you set out do not make sense without the graph you refer to in the text but which is not included. Also, horror of horrors, the proposal is addressed to Mr Jane Davidson. The highly valued, would-be client rings the sales director to complain and promises to place her business elsewhere.
You are an author and proud of your new book that you have decided to self-publish. Towards the end of writing it you decided to change the main character’s name from William to Damian. You do not know why, it is just a whim and makes him sound more interesting. You used the find and replace tool in Microsoft Word, but instead of checking and approving each change, you impatiently clicked the option to change all. Consequently, the King William IV public house mentioned in Chapter 2 and several times later in the book has now become the King Damian IV. The first person to download your e-book has emailed you to complain about the error and is now scouring the remaining text looking for other errors and finds some. He threatens to post the details on Facebook. That will not be good for business.
In all three scenarios above that ‘saving’ has turned into a major cost. It could all have been avoided if you had proofread properly, or better still used an independent proofreader who can give a fresh and objective perspective on your document or book. Help is only a phone call or email away (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Stephen York is a freelance proofreader with over 25 years' experience in book and journal publishing offering proofreading services to publishers, businesses, organizations, educational institutions, academics, students, and authors. He regularly proofreads in digital format a wide variety of media in an extensive range of specialist subject areas, including business, finance, economics, education, marketing, and real estate.