Of all the disciplines required to produce a written piece of work, proofreading your work is, arguably, the most important function that needs to be carried out. It matters not how accomplished an author you are; typos, punctuation or grammatical errors will find their way in. We have compiled a list of the more common howlers to be found in unedited documents. So, in no particular order, here we go:
Spelling Names Wrong
Unforgiveable; especially if the name is that of a client or a public figure. Nothing is guaranteed to upset someone more than misspelling their name, or getting it completely wrong.
Not Asking Someone Else to Go Over Your Work
Many writers, particularly those who work from home, just skim through their work, without seeking a second opinion. Even if you pore through your document with the proverbial fine tooth comb, proofreading your work two, maybe three times, you may still miss an error that a fresh pair of eyes will pick up like a sore thumb.
Getting the Date Wrong
This is more common than you may think. I’m typing one handed as I raise my other in shame. This error is easily compounded when you use the day of the week and the date together. Also watch out if you are using a template or copying and pasting similar documents and changing the variables as you go.
Misspelling Words with the Same Pronunciation
I could have saved a whole lot of space there by typing “Homophones” but as this is not a word that I would naturally include in my everyday vocabulary, I’ve gone for the long winded title.
Common examples: their and there; (oh and not forgetting they’re) hear and here; fair and fare; your and you’re; where, wear and ware. I could go on.
Misplacing the Dreaded Apostrophe
This is a very common mistake; most often seen, for some strange reason, on chalk boards in bars, restaurants or cafes. Probably the most common version is it’s when used as a possessive noun.
Mixing US English with UK English
The internet has shrunk the world into a digitalised (digitalized?) global village. To avoid crucial errors while proofreading your work, you need to know your audience. If you are based in the UK and your document is intended for UK citizens, you need to ensure that you use UK English. The same applies to the US and US English. Indeed, if your work is going to be seen in various countries around the world, US English will be the predominant version. Whichever one you choose, you need to be consistent throughout your document.
Something you need to double check when proofreading your work. There is nothing worse than clicking on to a link in an email or blog that doesn’t lead anywhere. Things to look out for include misspelling the destination URL when setting up the hyperlink in your document.
Wrongly Formatted Documents
Margins and indents can inexplicably move while you are typing; or more commonly, when you publish a piece of work written in a word processing program, such as Microsoft Word or Open Office Writer, through a Content Management System (CMS). It is essential to preview your work, whether you are producing a blog post, some content for a web page, or maybe even an e-book.
Proofreading your work is of vital importance. Getting it wrong can be, at the least, downright embarrassing. At the worst, it could destroy your credibility.