How do I know this you ask? The past ten months of my life were devoted to planning a wedding. With my now husband being an architect and myself being a designer, it was important to us to do a lot of the projects ourselves — from chopping up discarded trees limbs for making centerpieces to designing and screen-printing the invitations. It was during the process of designing the program that my proofreading skills were put to the test. And now I reveal my almost embarrassing mistake…
Yes, I almost asked my guests to give each other the “Sign of Peach.” And no, my wedding was not Mario themed. “Peach” was not corrected by spell check since it was spelled correctly. I obviously meant to say, “Sign of Peace,” but as you can see, the message is wrong. Imagine our guests following along with our program. We have just exchanged our vows, and everyone is praying together. As they read what is next – Bam! That intimate moment of prayer and reflection is ruined as they chuckle and point to “Sign of Peach” printed before them.
Correct spelling is important, but correct meaning cannot be assumed when you are relying solely on spell check. In fact, one wrong word could completely flaw your message. For example, NBC’s @BreakingNews tweeted in July that President Obama would be making a “personal” statement the next day. If he really were making a statement about his personal life or health, then that tweet would make sense; but, the President was actually making a statement about “personnel.” Correct spelling, wrong message.
In a world where life and work are so fast paced and multitasking is a must, there are bound to be spelling and grammar errors, especially in the world of social media. On social channels such as Facebook and Twitter, gaining your audience’s trust is key to success. It is this reason that it is imperative to proofread your messages for clarity and spelling errors. And I’m not saying lose those slang terms and abbreviations. Social media is meant to be more informal; just make sure you use those slang terms and abbreviations correctly. Two wrong letters can completely skew your message, leading to a confused audience who are now skeptical of your future tweets or posts. People say there are no rules to social media, and only trial and error can discover the most amazing uses of social media channels. But, make spell checking and proofreading your one rule — you can’t go wrong.
No one is perfect, and here at X we have our fair share of mistakes. But, first impressions are important. Don’t let them be ruined by something that is under your control. Take the time to spell check AND proofread your work, as well as getting a second person to do the same before your work ever reaches a customer’s eyes. Misspellings and simple grammar errors can be viewed as laziness or sloppiness by your peers, clients, and potential clients. So take the time to avoid simple spelling and grammar errors by slowing down, reading your work, and asking a co-worker to read it also. The next time you are working on a project, sending out a tweet, or posting to Facebook, remember these proofreading tips:
1. Spell Check. Go ahead, it will find all misspellings. Don’t rely on it though.
2. Come back to what you are working on. Fresh eyes can reveal grammar errors and spelling mistakes that tired eyes cannot see.
3. Read out loud. This will force you to read slowly and purposefully.
4. Use a second set of eyes. You’ll be surprised at what you missed.
I hope this post helps you develop your proofreading skills and leads to fewer revisions and happier clients. Just remember that spell checking is only a part of proofreading. And of course, “Peach be with you.”
Author’s Note: This post was spell-checked, proofread by myself, and then proofread by a co-worker.