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If you’ve got text on your page, it needs to be edited and proofread. The act of writing, especially on a computer (is there any other way these days?), is error-prone. When I write something I’m frequently tweaking it as I go — lots of deleting and adding, cutting and pasting. If you don’t watch it, things can get pretty garbled in the process.

Case in point — I recently had the pleasure of proofreading a very short piece written by someone else (who will remain unnamed) on the topic of “the key to creating quality documents.” Here’s what she submitted to me:

This is probably the most single significant control in the development of your document. Poor version control means wasted hours errors.

I trust that proves my point. She knew what she was trying to say, and I was able to figure out what she meant, but left on its own, it was not a “quality document.” The addition and deletion of words is like a surgeon who stitches up a patient, leaving a sponge and tweezers inside. You need to take a good look at these things before you call it a done deal.

I’m a pretty solid proofreader, if I do say so myself. I’ve always taken great pleasure in finding fault with other people’s work. Aside from that, I believe that a shortcoming of mine contributes to my thoroughness as a proofreader; namely, I’m a very slow reader. I’m like half a notch up from moving my lips while I read. I “subvocalize.”  I took a speed reading class once and boosted my reading speed by over 300%. It also decreased my reading enjoyment by 300%, so I pitched it and went back to my glacial pace.

But I think my subvocalization really works for me as a proofreader. When I got the hot mess mentioned above, I went back to Sandy the author and asked her to read it out loud. In the words of late, great American novelist Kurt Vonnegut, “It read like it was written by Philboyd Studge.”

I made a couple of tweaks to it. The finished product said:

This is probably the single most significant safeguard in the development of your document. Poor version control leads to errors that waste hours of your time.

Yeah, that’s what she meant to say.

Proofreading and editing. If you want a higher quality product, one that won’t make you cringe when it comes off the press, proofreading must be a priority — and multiple proofreaders reviewing the document multiple times is the best approach.

Check out this blog from a few months ago for more proofreading tips.

Click here to download our proofreading checklist.

And by the way – the document I was proofreading was our enewsletter, the Alpha Channel. If you’re not on our mailing list and would like to receive it, click here.

To checkout archives of our enewsletter, click here.

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