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Proofreading Blunders

Written by Emily Wilson on June 5th, 2012.      0 comments

We are all guilty of making mistakes; especially when it comes to proofreading our work. Mistakes on your website canProofreading Blunders not only be embarrassing but cost you money too. Shoppers nabbed a real bargain at Comet, an appliance retailer in the UK, when they made a costly mistake on their online store by misprinting the price of an Aiwa hi-fi which regularly retails for £89.00, instead listing it at the amazing price of £8.43. The company lost a huge amount of money before they corrected the error.

A slightly less costly, but still embarrassing example from Air Canada was when the airline accidently used luggage stickers which stated: “This Baggage Has Been X-Rated at Point of Origin”. Oops, I guess they found the adult magazines that were hidden in the bottom of your suitcase?

Mistakes like these often come down to human-error and can happen when you are under pressure to meet a deadline. But they can sometimes just be overlooked or not fact-checked thoroughly. Some people just have a deep love for unnecessary capital letters, or enjoy over-exclaiming – it is best to stop using exclamation marks in bulk, one will suffice.

At a basic level you want to use spell check. That said; don’t rely too heavily on spell check as it won’t pick up every mistake as anyone who has made the public/pubic mistake will know. Read through your finished document thoroughly once you have used spell check to avoid the embarrassment that comes from discussing third panty insurance.

If you have a long document it can help to double-space between lines. It makes reading and proofreading easier because you can write above and below the sentences. Print a hard copy of your document - no matter how many pages. You are bound to catch more mistakes than just reading the onscreen version.

Read your work aloud to catch mistakes the eyes often gloss over and mark off mistakes with a red pen; not just for fun, a contrasting colour actually helps you spot the mistake when you make the correction later. (If you really want to you can grade your work and add a smiley face or gold star at the end!)

Get some rest and get less-familiar with your work. That means take a break; take a day, week, month away from the document. As the author you can become a little self-involved and miss errors that with fresh eyes seem so obvious!

Poor spelling on your website could cost you. Customers may be dissuaded from making a purchase from a site that has poor spelling and grammatical errors, as this reflects badly on your credibility. It pays to write copy using word processor software first to make sure it is perfect, plus you’ll have a file you can save if you make changes to your page.

Make sure your website copy makes sense. All too often people try to cram those important keywords in for SEO. Part of the sales process is to convert visitors who find your page, you will find them leaving all too soon if they can’t make sense of your text.

You should also check and double-check your emails before you hit send (same goes for Facebook and Twitter posts). Email and social media may seem like a less formal ground for communication, but if they are business related then you will want to reflect your branding and professionalism. Emails and posts can easily be forwarded or shared with others; which can land you in hot water.

One common mistake is to get recipient’s name wrong. Check their email signature for how their name is spelt, and whether they use a variation of it. I’ve been called, on more than one occasion, Emma Watson. Close, but not actually my name. It can help to keep a list of names that you have fact-checked to save time rechecking.

Take a break.

If you are using numbers, equations or calculations, best make sure they work. Same goes for graphs and other images including their caption. Often decisions about spending (or not spending) are made by graphs, calculations and prices, so they can make or break your sale.

Even if you know the difference between it’s (the contraction) and its (possessive), your fingers may not. Using the “find” function of your word processor and run a search just for apostrophe marks to help locate and catch errors.

If your work is ever changed by someone else into another format, it pays to check it before it goes live. This is especially true when booking advertising.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. It is better to have someone at the office spot your bad spelling than a potential client! Plus if there is a mistake you can pass on the blame! Remember if you are no word-smith then it may be beneficial to hire a professional to write and/or edit your copy. Valuable advice for tattoo artists also! Google “misspelled tattoos” and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

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Zeald was formed in 2001 by three young guys from the small New Zealand town of Mangawhai Heads. Now, Zeald is the largest website design and digital marketing agency in New Zealand and has recently made moves into Australia. This is the Zeald story …

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