Even a Virtual Assistant needs the services of a Proof Reader and so Your Executive Secretary are really excited to have a Guest Blog Post from Helen Baggott, a Professional Writer and Proofreader. Keep reading to see Why “The Proof is in the Reading…..”.
To paraphrase Franklin, ‘nothing is certain but death, taxes and typos’. Where there are words, there will be woeful errors – and that’s why we need proofreaders.
New innovations of self-publishing may short-cut the route to a Kindle or bookshelf, but proofreading’s one stage that shouldn’t be missed.
Budding Browns will find their careers cut short by poor reviews and many learn the hard way that it’s almost easier to crack the Da Vinci Code than to proofread their own work.
Website and business content is no different. We become so familiar with our work that the eyes and brain deceive us into reciting, not reading.
No-one knows your product better than you do, so it’s your voice that will sell your service. But if you’re trying to sell an eye for detail, what message will that typo send out?
Often it’s the most familiar of phrases that will let you down – simply because your brain will barely acknowledge what the eye sees.
In the world of fiction, Tim can become Tom, a cashmere sweater will be stoked and pretty curtains are made from lice. A spellchecker will never find those errors – they’re all correctly spelt. The same applies with your business content – how can you polish your prose and project the perfect image?
If you’re trying to proofread your own work, set it aside – for as long as possible. Re-read it after a long break and read it aloud. Doing that will inject a new stage into the process and you’ll be surprised what the tongue trips over.
Some writers will openly break the grammar rules – they have a voice for their characters and that’s what’s important to them. The same can be true of business content – your product, your voice – but mangle syntax at your peril. And do keep it simple – don’t try and impress by using a thesaurus – you’ll either turn customers off or make them laugh (titter, guffaw, chuckle, giggle).
Squeezing too much content into a few sentences will back fire. Bullet points are far better than too long sections of text and will have more impact. Using different spellings (T-shirt, t-shirt, tee shirt, tee-shirt), hoping one will stick, is never a good idea. It smacks of indecision and incompetence. Using capitals to enforce Your Message is fine, but if you’re breaking the rules you must be consistent.
If you intend producing a series of content for your marketing strategy, create your own Style Guide – that way everyone in your team will know you sell T-shirts and not tee-shirts. Include preferred punctuation, perhaps where you might use italics or bold for impact etc. Just the process of creating that Guide will focus your mind and begin training your brain to check for more than just spelling mistakes.
And if all else fails? Hire a proofreader!
As well as working as a proofreader, Helen Baggott also writes for local magazines. She is currently working on a collection of biographies for publication in 2014. Helen accepts proofreading commissions from authors, publishers and businesses that need their website and business material polished. www.helenbaggott.co.uk