by Diane Fitzpatrick, Proofreader, Dalton Agency
As a proofreader, I gave up on accuracy online and in texts a long time ago, but I still reread my own messages to improve their clarity and to correct errors. If I don’t care enough to get it right, why should you care what I have to say?
If you are reviewing your own composition for errors, here are some suggestions:
1. Read it out loud to catch grammatical errors.
2. Read it backwards to catch spelling errors.
3. Read it once for meaning, once for grammar, and once for spelling.
4. Have another person read it, too.
Some errors are amusing; some are deal killers. Legal documents, annual reports, and essential information such as addresses, phone numbers, and URLs must be error free. If you’re doing work for a client, an error might result in a costly production do-over, or even the loss of an account. Different clients have different preferences and terminology, so keeping a list of their words, phrases, and trademarks helps with consistency across projects.
Here are a few of the errors I see often when proofreading:
1. All the items, not all of the items.
2. Everyday (adjective) vs. every day (adverb).
3. Preventive, not preventative.
4. Subject/verb agreement, for which it helps to diagram the sentence (http://drb.lifestreamcenter.net/Lessons/TS/diagram.htm).