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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Never forget to proofread

Proofreading is not just about checking spelling, punctuation and grammar. It’s about checking for sense, consistency, spacing, coherence to style guides and more. A spell-checker alone is just not enough … and this can be explained with a poem:


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The short words of English

English is difficult to learn. I agree. Using the right prepositions, figuring out all the thousands of phrasal verbs, memorizing the exceptions to grammar rules, etc., can be frustrating. But thank goodness we don’t have the lengthy words of other languages. Here’s a noun in German that would slow down anyone for sure (including copy editors, proofreaders and writers):

Rindfleischetikettierungsueberwachungsaufgabenuebertragungsgesetz

It’s been deleted from the dictionary recently, though not for being too long. Read about it, and other superlong words in other languages, in this recent article and this one, both from the BBC.