Proofreading is the final line of defence before a written document is considered ‘complete’. Be it an academic paper, a research submission, memo, email, essay, or a legal tender – proofreading helps avoid misconstrued meaning at best, and serious legal ramifications at worst.
Proofreading consists of the following steps:
- Determination of meaning – a slow, careful read often reveals whether the document conveys the meaning it intends to. Despite a good introduction, if the subsequent content doesn’t follow through naturally, it might require adequate paraphrasing.
- Clarity of result – whether an email, or research paper, or a legal document, a proofread addresses the lack of clarity. Does it address the intended party? Is it direct without being hurtful?
- Elimination of mistakes – Errors in spelling, grammar, punctuation, mismatched verb-tense, or mistaken vocabulary can all be eliminated with a proofread. Sloppy work is neither appreciated in academic, nor professional domains. It’s worth investing in a proper dictionary and grammar reference rather than relying on spell-checking software.
- Verification of information – A major step while proofreading is verifying statistical information, data, and citations. For academic work these are imperative to good grades, and avoiding plagiarism. For corporate work, it prevents any potential legal implications. For research papers, it ensures that the referenced work isn’t misunderstood, especially if they are translated, transcribed, or integrated to other work.
- Stylistic checks – Often, a fantastic piece of content may not merit the accolades it deserves because it doesn’t adhere to guidelines of a document. If colours, fonts, or designs of an email are too distracting, nobody will read the content. If the calls to action are too obscure, user engagement doesn’t happen.
- Reading out aloud – Reading the document aloud once is a helpful final step. If you’re stumbling over a certain sentence or a clause, chances are that the intended reader would as well. Plus a fresh set of eyes after all the proofreading might reveal opportunities to rewrite or paraphrase.
The idea is to ensure that a document is well-written, conveys the information well, and is free from errors so the final product is easy to read and consume for the end-user. The precision of information is just as vital as visual consistency in terms of formatting and layout.
If you need a fresh set of eyes to look over your next blog post or email broadcast, contact us now and we’ll give your document a thorough going over. We’ll even give you a few free tips for improvement, and promise not to make you cry. Unless it’s really bad.