The Importance of Proof-Reading

Proof-Read: Your Writing May Be The Only Impression You Get To Make

As a professional writer and part-owner of a small marketing business, I understand how important it is to proof-read your work. I often get resumés from people looking to work both with me and for me. The reason I decided to write this article is the direct result of a resumé I received a few days ago.

The resumé in question made a rather quick trip into the waste bin. After a moment of thought, I retrieved it and decided to make it the basis for this article.

Based on her resumé alone, I would never hire Sally.* Although I had never actually met her, I knew immediately that she was lazy, unprofessional, and sloppy.

How did I know that?

Well, for starters, she misspelled her own last name on her cover letter. And the reason I know that … is because I eventually visited her blog website “just to see.” Curiosity got the better of me and I wondered how a “professional writer” could write so badly.

It wasn’t that Sally was a bad writer, but she was, in fact, lazy, sloppy and unprofessional. All because she didn’t proof-read. Her blog articles and web pages were rife with silly errors and simple misspellings.

Not all good writers are great typists.

I am a horrible typist. I know I certainly would not win any awards for my typing ability. Thank goodness for spell-check and grammar checker in writing software.

However, even without spell-check, my blog contains very few errors. Why? Because I proof-read.

You can’t rely on grammar and spell check. There are some errors that even word processing software won’t catch. For example:

T eh best way too get there is plain.

When I have an awesome idea, I find myself typing furiously to get it all down before the details slip away from me. When I type quickly, I often separate the letters in the word “the,” hit too many of one letter and even skip words because my brain is thinking faster than my fingers can follow. Spell and grammar checkers did not notice “t eh” or that I used the wrong version of the word “to,” or that I missed the word “by” in front of the wrong word for “plane.”

The best way to get there is by plane.

Proof-reading takes very little time and can improve your work greatly. Actually, proof-reading saves you time and embarrassment. And often, your writing can be the first impression you give someone, such as on a resumé.

Don’t Let Your Writing Make A Bad First Impression

No matter what you’re writing, paragraphs that are filled with errors that could easily have been corrected gives the reader an impression of who you are. No one will read your highly intellectual novel if it appears to have been written by a 4th grader.

Your Job Could Be On The Line

If you have to hand in a report to your boss and you don’t take 10 seconds to proof-read it first, you are wasting both their time and yours. Your boss will hand back the report asking you to fix it before handing it in again.

If your boss mistakenly assumed that you handed in a clean report and forwarded it to the client without checking it first, there is a lot of potential for not only embarrassment, but lost business. That client may decide that your company does shoddy work and hire someone whose work is perfect.

As a web designer in marketing, I often get emails that result in chronic miscommunication. My clients, who claim to be “professionals” in their field are far too busy to bother with what they feel are minor details. They brush me off saying something like, “Maybe I said white, but I meant black. Big deal.” Yes, in fact it is a big deal because black and white are completely different and I’m not a mind reader.

“Say what you mean. Mean what you say. And write what you meant to say.”

My Eyes Are Different Than Yours

No two people look at one object and see the same thing. Whether you are looking at a piece of artwork or technical manual filled with formulas, different people will see something unique.

You can proof-read your writing a hundred times, but never see an error that might be very obvious to someone else. That’s why it’s important to get a second set of eyes to read your work. That’s not always possible, of course, and not really necessary for short articles. The longer and more detailed the work, however, the better it is to get someone else to have a look.

Don’t be lazy. If you take short-cuts, everyone else will know it. Give your writing a quick proof-read before handing it off to someone else. All it takes is a couple of minutes that could mean the difference between a good job well done … and the recycle bin.