Message is defined as a communication in writing, in speech, or by signals. Whether you’re making slides for your presentation or you’re putting your marketing materials together, your message must be CLEAR. People want to know what you can do for them or how you can solve their problem(s). Sounds easy, yes? For some people, perhaps. Others, perhaps not.
Part of having a CLEAR message means making sure the materials you’re sending out are free of errors because “Bad Messaging Makes Business Broke.” I’ve been a proofreader for over 30 years. When I’m reading newsletters, books, the paper, etc., the mistakes pop out at me. This is not to say I’m perfect, because I’m not, and I cringe when I send something out my eagle eyes miss. However, after years of proofreading medical records and several books, articles, press releases, and newsletters, I always follow these three tips (and more) when I’m proofing any document.
Proofreading Hints for Your Information
Do not take spelling/grammar check results at their word
Yes, do the initial proof of your document(s) with the spelling and grammar tools in your program, but don’t take the suggestions as “absolutely correct.” For instance, take into consideration homophones (the words sound alike but have different meanings and spellings). Did you write “there” (place) when you meant to write “their (possessive)”? Did you spend eight days at the beach and not ate? Even though you spell words correctly when you type, your spell check won’t pick up correctly spelled words used incorrectly.
For the grammar portion, these types of programs don’t know the context you’re writing in; therefore, it might suggest a comma when a semicolon is the correct punctuation.
Use your tools, but check what they check!
Read out loud
Yes, out loud. Find a quiet place, after you’ve finished writing, and read the words aloud. I’m willing to bet you’ll find mistakes you never would have dreamed of when you take time to do this activity. Word for word.
Take a break after writing
Why wait? Because you’re giving your mind time to rest and see your writing in a different light. You’re more likely to pick up mistakes in your writing: active or passive voice, misused or misspelled words, putting in a comma when you should have typed a period, etc…
Tying it all together
I can’t tell you the number of newsletters, blogs, web content, and other materials I read where the spelling and grammar is incorrect. It makes me want to reach out and connect with the people and ask if they’d like their work to be proofed so their message looks professional. Lots of people say it doesn’t matter. I say, your professional written message matters because, “Bad Messaging Makes Businesses Broke.” What kind of message do you want to send to your audience?
Looking to have your book, website content, blogs, or newsletters reviewed for your professional written image? Have a grammar question? Let’s connect.