I’m sure most of us have found an occasional typo when reading a brochure, magazine, newspaper, or menu. I get an especial kick out of some of the typos you find on restaurant menus. While it’s more common to see these on menus made by ESL learners (like at your favourite Asian takeout place), they can strike anywhere, even at a US state dinner. Happily, a good proofreader can catch these kinds of errors before your publications go to print.
Proofreading isn’t simply about ensuring a quality publication, it’s about respect–namely, for your product and/or service, and your customers or clients. By taking the time to ensure your publications are error free, you ensure your clients and customers you respect what you do. Sure, quality and respect go hand in hand, but often organizations sacrifice quality without realizing they’ve sacrificed respect as well. So proofreading saves face. And proofreading saves money, too. If the error is big enough–or embarrassing enough–you’ll have to pay to have your publication reprinted.
Aside from typos, proofreading can catch a number of mistakes. Proofreading is meant to correct spelling, grammar, usage, and to ensure all a publication’s tables, graphs, figures, and references are accurate, in that they are formatted correctly and point to the right place in the publication. A good proofreader will also comment on readability, highlighting any phrasing that should be recast. Indeed, proofreading is another step in ensuring your publication is clear, accurate, and consistent. And that’s important to note–proofreading is another step in the editorial process. It’s not the same as copy editing. Proofreading is about getting a second opinion, a second set of eyes to look over your proofs. After working and reworking the copy of a publication, that same writer shouldn’t be expected to catch every typo or grammatical error. A fresh set of eyes is much better.
So break out the red pens and proofread each other’s work. And if that publication is going out to your clients or customers, consider having an editor look at the print proofs. No one wants to be known as the “Chariman of typos,” especially not by their clients or customers.