Here are: 5 basic proofreading steps to help you avoid costly and embarrassing mistakes.
1. Use the spell check on your computer to help detect errors
But also have another person help to check over the spelling and grammar.
There are classic confusions with words like: “there, their, they’re, they are, or it’s and its”. These are words that the spell check will not flag as errors, and this is where good old human know how works best.
2. Watch out for Homonyms
Homonyms are words that share the same pronunciations or spellings, but they have different meanings. For example, confusion often arises with accept & except, or words like complement and compliment, aid & aide, allowed and aloud, assent & ascent, aught and ought, awful & awful, basis and bases, bloc & block, breech and breach. The list goes on and on.
Any mixing of the terms can be disastrous, in some circumstances.
When in doubt, check it out.
It is easy to pick up a dictionary, or a thesaurus, or you can quickly Google spellings and definitions online.
3. Print your Copy on Paper
Reading and editing on a computer screen is different compared to reading the printed page that you are holding in your hands. Using a highlighter to mark the errors you spot is very useful. Using a pen to make corrections and notes in the margins also helps. Then, you can go back to the drawing board (the computer) and make your corrections. Then, print again and re-edit until it is just right.
4. Pay Attention to Punctuation
Correct use of capitals, hyphens, apostrophes, commas, quotes, periods, colons & semi-colons strengthens your printing project
Just like a printing or grammatical error, misuse of punctuation can give unintended meanings, distract and annoy the customers, or your readers.
If you have trouble with this, find someone to help, or educate yourself on correct usage.
5. Double Check your Numbers
This is important.
Once a Flyer or an Ad has been printed, it can be hard to undo what has been printed. In the case where a company advertizes costs for sale items, they either have to ‘make good‘ on the mistakenly printed price, or they have to reprint and retract the price to deal with customers who expect to find these items at the published cost. This is an embarrassing and inconvenient scenario. So, editing these numbers is critical.