Tips for Better Proof Reading

Spelling and typos have long been the bane of my existence. I am a lousy speller, and a lousy typist. But I firmly believe that it is important to produce spelling free, typo free, grammatically correct copy, especially in a business environment. If you send out emails and correspondence laced with errors, your reader may think you are too lazy to proofread, or just not too smart!

If you suffer from my afflictions (lousy speller, lousy typist) what can you do? Well, here are some tips that I use:

First, ALWAYS uses spell check. Many software programs offer the option to spell check as you type. If the option is available, I alway have it turned on. I also have my email program set to force a spell check on any message before it is sent. Do be careful with spell check. It often suggests the wrong word when correcting your error. I once got in trouble with a VP at a company where I worked. He asked me to do something, and I meant to email back that “I would definitely do that”. But I spelled definitely wrong, and spell check corrected my error so that I said that “I would defiantly do that”. I immediately got a call from my manager asking why I was being defiant with the VP. Oops! Also┬ásometimes when you make a typo, your error may be a real word that is correctly spelled, and spell check will miss the error.

Second, read your work out loud. You will be amazed at how clearly your errors jump out when you read them aloud.

Third, have your computer read your text to you. Both Mac and Windows 7 have text-to-speech features built-in. Again, you will be surprised at how errors jump out when read aloud.

Fourth, have someone else proof read your work. You will miss errors proofing your own work, because you know what you meant to say, and your brain will automatically auto correct errors so that you won’t even see them.

One last thought. When you see a piece of work or read an email with an error in it, be a bit charitable. I promise you that I take all of the steps mentioned above, and I do my very best. Yet I know that errors creep into my work from time to time. Some of us are good at math, some of us are artistic, and some of us have a natural talent for proof reading. If you happen to be a natural-born proof reader, and you spot an error in someone’s work, kindly point out the error if it can be corrected, or just graciously let it go.