Tight or conflicting deadlines often result in team members running out of time to refine and check their document. Attention to detail with your written communications may seem like a waste of time and energy when there are other pressing demands. Yet close attention to concise and correct documents will project an image of professionalism and high quality. Without such rigour, costly and time consuming errors may also slip through.
Plan your approach and allow enough time
Once all the content is in place and your document is coherent and structurally sound, it’s time to refine the text with a copyedit and final proofread. Both these tasks are focused on smoothing rough edges to ensure a clear, concise and professional result. But there are important differences between the two processes. Copyediting involves looking at the structure and clarity of sentences, whereas proofreading focuses on picking up any remaining typos and inconsistencies before publication.
|Sentences are clear, concise and an appropriate length.||Yes|
|Lists are well balanced, an appropriate length and use parallel structure.||Yes|
|The language is non-discriminatory.||Yes|
|The style complies with the organisation’s writing style guide.||Yes|
|Acronyms are used appropriately and correctly.||Yes|
|Spelling is correct and consistent.||Yes|
|There are no typographical errors.||Yes|
|All formatting is correct and consistent.||Yes|
|Headings in table of contents are correct.||Yes|
|Pagination, footers and headers are correct and consistent.||Yes|
|Chapters and appendices are correctly numbered.||Yes|
|Web links are correct and unbroken.||Yes|
Carefully checking for errors can take longer than you anticipate, so don’t leave this important task to the last minute.
Minimise the risk of budget blowouts
Before having your document proofread, it’s important to complete all editing. Although you may be tempted to combine the copyediting and proofreading processes, it’s Concise Writing Consultancy policy to have 2 different team members complete these processes separately. This is because once someone has become familiar with the content, the risk of overlooking errors is higher. Although there is some overlap, the skills of editing and proofreading are also different and an excellent copyeditor is not necessarily a good proofreader and vice versa.
Once the proofreading is complete and all corrections have been made and crossed-checked, your document is finished and ready to be released into the wild. Following proofreading, resist the temptation to make editorial changes as by doing so you could introduce new errors. If the document has been graphically designed, last-minute editorial changes could also add hours of additional work for the designer causing you to miss your deadline or for your project to go over budget.
Know when to call the professionals
It’s not realistic to have every communication you write at work outsourced for copyediting or proofreading. One option is to give the final edited draft to a team member who has an excellent grasp of English grammar and spelling, and a good eye for detail. For high-profile external publications, and those internal communications that need to be accurate, we highly recommend professional proofreading.