It’s a fact – we are all human and make mistakes.
It doesn’t matter how experienced or exceptional you are as a writer, your work still needs to be proofed. I’m sure you have heard horror stories of a word being used in the wrong context, giving it a totally different meaning, or a number being left out of a phone number.
Marketing material with errors can be costly. Clients expect accurate, even superior, material. They might think, “If they can’t get their marketing material right, how can I trust them?” This argument may seem a bit harsh, but I have heard it said and it isn’t totally unwarranted.
Simple mistakes can affect a firm’s credibility and damage its reputation. Many people associate typos and errors with con artists or they might think your website is a false one. It can turn away potential clients. Don’t learn the hard way – always proof your work and without fail always get someone to double check it.
Here are some common mistakes to look for:
- Not allowing enough time.
If you rush a job you are more likely to make mistakes. When you are very close to a deadline you may feel pressured to distribute work quickly or send it to the printer without checking. Don’t. Take the time to do a final proof. A mistake found in printer’s proof will cost time and money to correct as it holds up production, and new printing plates usually come at a price. Even worse, if you don’t check the printer’s proof you might end up with the added expense of reprinting the material.
- Only proofing the document yourself.
Mistakes often happen when you have worked on a document for a long time. You become too familiar with your own work making it easy to miss obvious errors. Always get a ‘fresh set of eyes’ to proof your work, especially if only one person has been looking at the same material over and over. You may be surprised at what other people pick up.
- Focusing on the body copy.
The tendency is to look at the body content and overlook obvious items. Make sure you check the headings, captions and contact details as errors in these items stand out and leave a bad impression.
- Relying on the spellchecker.
Remember that a spelling and grammar check doesn’t pick up everything and typos can easily go unnoticed. A spellchecker tool won’t help with words that sound similar but have different spellings and meanings. It is a good idea to make a list of common errors that you encounter whilst proofreading. Some examples are listed below:
- Using the contraction rather than the possessive form and vice versa, such as it’s and its, you’re and your, who’s and whose.
- Using the wrong word, such as principle instead of principal, practice instead of practise, and their instead of they’re or there.
- Inserting an unnecessary apostrophe, for example, the Smith’s instead of the Smiths, or ‘All new client’s receive a complimentary consultation.’
- Mixing verbs and nouns, such as affect and effect.
- Missing words or letters.
We tend to read what we expect to see, so omitted words or letters can easily be overlooked. These types of mistakes can slip in when copy has been altered, particularly at the design stage. Reading copy aloud helps highlight missed words or letters.
- Inconsistent use of words or style.
Follow your firm’s style guide. Make sure you know whether your firm uses program or programme. Be aware of basic convention such as how numerals, dates and time should be expressed. An example is whether the date style is 18 April, April 18 or 18th April. Avoid using ampersands in body copy. Content with multiple &s included is distracting and unprofessional.
- Not proofing from a printed copy.
It is very easy to glance over errors on a computer screen. Always print a final hard copy to give you a perspective of what the reader will see.
- Not providing all people involved the opportunity to approve copy.
It might seem a chore at the time, but each person involved has a different perspective and notices different things. This is especially critical for important documents such as an annual report.
Never underestimate the importance of proofing your marketing materials. A document can never be proofed enough. At the end of the day it will save you time, money and stress.
To learn how to further improve your communication with clients, download our message architecture program ebook:
This blog was written by Vanessa Klomp
Vanessa has in-depth knowledge of the education industry having worked in high school, home-schooling, international language and post-graduate fields of education, making her a natural fit to undertake the marketing communications of a number of imageseven’s education, not-for-profit and professional services clients. Vanessa enjoys travelling, running, sharing time with friends and family, and simply being outdoors.