The Editorial Apartment


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The basic proofread for marketers with a small budget

If you can’t afford to hire a professional copy editor or proofreader to review your marketing communications before final publishing, here’s how you can do a very basic proofread of the item by yourself.

These steps cover some basic items to look for, and they work best if your marketing piece is fairly simple, on one page, for example, and not text heavy. These steps also assume you have the “final” designed piece (digital or printed) in front of you, ready for your approval.

  1. Put the piece away somewhere and don’t look at it again until the next day.
  2. Read it again slowly and calmly for sense and flow, and verify that the main message is clear overall. Since you’re about to go live with this piece, you shouldn’t be making any major content (or design) changes.
  3. Now look at it in more detail. Read it again from the beginning. Review each and every word for spelling, especially proper names. Misspellings are the worst error to miss.
  4. Verify that any dates, times, phone numbers, and Web or street addresses are correct.
  5. Now look for space issues. Look for extra spaces between paragraphs, sentences, words and letters. There should be only one space between sentences, not two. Strange spacing in text (if it is not intentional) is awkward and off-putting.
  6. Check if any text is accidentally cut off or covered up by something in the design, making it unreadable, or if text has somehow dropped out. Missing text or covered text errors are especially sloppy.
  7. Submit your changes to your Web or graphic designer.
  8. On the revised version, check that your changes were done correctly. Glance at the whole piece again and verify that nothing else was changed by accident. If everything looks good, then you’re ready to approve. If not, go back to step 7.

What about grammar or punctuation? If you have a doubt, you’ll have to consult the copywriter who wrote the piece.

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How much longer is Spanish than English?

It could be up to 30 percent longer. If you had visions of creating your marketing piece in other languages besides English, remember, the length of the translated copy might be longer (or shorter) than the English. This will affect the design of the document, and to preserve the design, you might have to edit the translation, as well as the English.

foreignlanguagelength

Here are a few estimations of language length (which depends on the nature of the text and the topic) when translating from English:*

Spanish: 25% to 30% longer
French: 15% to 25% longer
Russian: about 30% shorter
Asian languages: as much as 40% shorter

So if you want to create a promotional button, for example, in a number of languages, keep in mind how much space you have on that button to do so successfully.

Note: Language length is just one factor to consider when producing multilingual materials. This article from the Corporate Design Foundation gives excellent advice on what else to keep in mind.

*Source: The blog post, “On the relative length of languages,” by Bruno Giussani, European director of the TED Conferences.


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There’s writing on my egg

Eggs

I almost thought there was advertising on this egg as I was about to crack it open, or some message to make me feel good about eggs. The writing was large enough to be noticed! But no, it was just a note about the date it wouldn’t taste good anymore. There’s a marketing opportunity here, whether that’s a good thing or not, for the product maker.

However, if I had had to review this small bit of copy, here are some things I’d be questioning: Is it missing a period at the end? Not necessarily; it could be like a headline or title. Leave as is. Is the style of the date OK? Check the house style guide. The justification OK? Are we limited to what the machine in the factory that marks the egg can print? Details, details. This is what copy editors and proofreaders do.