You might think that proofreading is an outdated process that belongs to an era before digital content and communications, when everything was printed and proofs were intensely inspected by eagle-eyed proofreaders wielding red pens. That would be a wrong assumption as proofreading is needed now as much as ever before, perhaps even more so with digital communication and publication of material. It is so easy to send off error-ridden documents halfway around the world at the press of the Send button before you even realize it. It is too late to recall your publication once it has left your possession.
The simple but vital solution to this problem is proofreading – not just of the usual printed material but of digital content such as website material, email promotions, blogs, and even social media postings. One error in your digital content
• can spoil the overall impression, especially if it is the first contact with a potential client
• convey carelessness, even give the impression that you do not take enough care with fine detail
• undermine your brand or integrity.
The power and immediacy of social media also means that your audience has a ready platform on which to publicize any of your mistakes. We have all read stories of vicious trolling on social media such as Twitter so it is advisable not to provide ammunition.
Tips for finalizing your marketing content
After writing your content come back another time, preferably another day, and reread it with fresh eyes and mind. It is surprising what you can pick up and you may even think of better ways to express your message, perhaps with tighter and more concise writing, and eliminate redundant expressions and clichés. You might also more readily spot
• typos such as transposed letters, such as form and from
• words used in the wrong context, such as your or you’re, principle or principal
• repetition of ideas or words in the same sentence
• inconsistent spelling, such as mixing British and US spellings even though your computer spellchecker passed them as acceptable
• inconsistent capitalization and hyphenation.
A long-term aid would also be to compile your own style guide to ensure your content follows consistent patterns of spelling, punctuation, capitalization, and layout, especially if more than one person is responsible for producing marketing content. Consistency in your communications and content is a goal worth achieving.
But bear in mind that proofreading is a specialized skill that should be best left to an experienced proofreader because, no matter how diligent you are in proofreading your own work, you will always read what you expect to see, not necessarily what is actually there. And remember that style guide mentioned above? It is something useful to send on to your proofreader who can help you maintain a consistent approach to digital and printed material, and they may even offer suggestions of their own.
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.