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Is Proofing still important?

Published on 18 Feb 2017

With computers and software advancing at an ever increasing rate, we don't seem to be as concerned with proofreading as we once were.  Another reason is that the abundance of emails and texts lowers expectations for accuracy.

Back in the old days, we were taught to write as accurately as we could and proofing was a very important part of the process.

Does accuracy and style still matter in documents and correspondence? Yes is the simple and only answer. Businesses are still very aware of image and mistakes in correspondence or any marketing materials (including ads and social media posts) reflect very badly on the company. Any employee who doesn't take the time to check whatever it may be that they are writing may bring unwanted negativity to themselves and the business.

When an administration assistant is preparing a document for review, they must ensure it is as complete and accurate as possible before handing it to their boss.  Nobody is perfect and mistakes happen, however taking the time to double check a document will pick up most errors. Remember a first draft is just that first attempt that needs to be checked for accuracy. It was Ernest Hemingway that said ‘The first draft of anything is shi…’ not good!

Our tips for proofreading that work for us are:

1. Read the document with a fresh set of eyes - This is very important and will help you identify silly errors that you wouldn’t pick up by doing a review as soon as you have finished the first draft. If you check the document as soon as you have finished it, your brain will see what it wants to see. For example if you have a name in different parts of a document, you may have spelt it differently in each spot. In addition, when you read the document with a fresh set of eyes you can get a sense of the sentences to know if there is an extra 'the' or 'a' that shouldn't be there.

2. Spell check - This is the easiest part of proofing a document that is often overlooked. As you are going through the spell check pay attention to the suggestions that your software flags to you.  Note:  Before you start a spell check, always ensure your document's proofing language is set to English (Australia), not English (United States).  To check this in Microsoft Word, go to the Review tab - Language - Set Proofing Language - select English (Australia).

3. Final check of the document – This is the step that is often overlooked. Best practice is for someone else to have a final read of your document. Sometimes time demands do not allow this (or if it is a simple letter then it is not really worth it). However if you can get someone else to check your document, then do it. 

Proofing also helps you to know your document so that it makes you very familiar with the content. If you really get to know the content, then if you are asked a question about it you should be able to give a good answer.

The goal should be to have the most professional and accurate document that you can.  Proofing is still very important and taking the time to proof and get it right will reflect well not only on you, but on your business as well.

If you would like any assistance with proofing or preparing your documents, we provide a professional service with prompt turn around times. You can call us on 6332 9300, use our online Contact Us form – www.branchoffice.com.au/contact or simply drop into our office at The Branch Office Building located at 45 Cameron Street, Launceston.