16 October 2010

Is Proofreading a Lost Art?

People don't seem to be as concerned with proofreading as we used to be.  I think with texting it has brought a low expectation for accuracy as lots of mistakes are made in emails and texts and are accepted overall.

When I was in school the teachers drilled proofing skills into us as they taught us the goal was to create the best product we could and proofing was part of the process to do that.

Does it matter? 

I think businesses are very aware of their corporate image and messy reporting reflects badly on the company so an employee who doesn't take the time may be noticed in a negative way.

If an admin assistant is preparing a document for their boss, they should ensure it is as complete and accurate as possible before even passing it by their desk.  Some things we won't know, but what we do know we should ensure is correct.

Some tips for proofreading that I find work best are:

1. Spell check -  This is the easiest part of proofing a document. As you are going through the Spell check pay attention to the suggestions and either Add to Dictionary, if it is an odd name or word that is coming up as a spelling error, press Change if it is an error, or Ignore or Ignore all if it is something you want the speller to skip over.

2. Eyeball the document - This is very important and will help you identify errors that Spell check wouldn't pick up just by doing a quick review of it.  For instance if you are adding names and addresses and notice the name is spelled one way and the name in the email address is spelled another, it will be a flag for you that you have to go back and verify the information because something is wrong.  When you read the document you will also get the sense of the sentence so will know if there is an extra 'the' or 'a' that shouldn't be there.

3. Final check the document - If you have an opportunity to check your work with someone else, that is ideal.  You may not have that resource however, but if you do take advantage of it.  When checking lists I like to use tick marks.  If I am reviewing the list with someone I then cross the tick mark through once verified to show it is doubly checked.  If I am manually reviewing a document, I underline or cross out the change and then put an X in the right margin so I can see where my change is.  If you use track changes in an electronic document, this does the same thing, although at times I find small errors are not identified as clearly as I would like and can be missed.

Proofing also helps you to know your document. Going over it a few times makes you very familiar with the content. I find this especially helpful with minutes. I not only proof, but I really get to know the content so if I am asked at a meeting something about an action, I know exactly where to look or may have the answer from memory, rather than looking at them with a blank stare or fumble to find my place. I find the same with lists, by reviewing the list I will know just about everyone that is on that list so can easily answer any questions about it.

I think the goal should really be the same as my teachers taught me -- to have the most professional and accurate looking document that we can.  After the document is proofed, then we can bring it to our boss.  They may make more changes, but at least you know you have done everything you can to make it as accurate as possible.  This will also give your boss confidence when you bring a clean document to them that they can depend on you to do the best job possible.

Proofing is as important now as it has ever been.  Take the time to do it as it will not only reflect well on you, but on our profession as well.

1 comment:

Proofreading and editing service said...

Oh' I agree with you there, "Proofing is as important now as it has ever been. Take the time to do it as it will not only reflect well on you, but on our profession as well." I wish they realize how important is proofreading. Thanks for sharing.