Before You Eat Your Launch

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conciseguideDid you catch the typo above before or after you ate your lunch? Many people don't see a misplaced, extra or omitted letter in a word, but for some, that's all they see. And when you print anything, whether it is one sheet of paper or a thousand brochures, a mistake in spelling or grammar can be costly, for both your credibility and your budget.

It's very difficult to proofread something that you have worked on all day. Our eyes tend to gloss over a sentence we've seen before, especially if we've tweaked and changed it a hundred times. That's where proofreading comes in. While it's best to find a fresh pair of eyes to look at your work, there are a few steps you can take to help root out those little buggers that want to spoil the job. Here are some proofreading tips:

Change your place of reading -- move from your desk and sit in a sunny spot
Get a proofing buddy and read aloud to each other
Print a hard copy on different colored paper
Zoom in tight or out far on your screen and read from there
Proof for one thing at a time: spelling, then grammar, then punctuation
Look for trouble words: you and your, health and hearth, golf and gold
Un-contract contractions as you read: it's and it is, you're and you are
Use a ruler or piece of paper and read one line at a time
Remember to proof headlines and captions
Examine small print closely -- with a magnifying glass if necessary
Send it to your mom -- she'll be happy to hear from you, regardless of typos
Enter special words and names -- correctly -- in your spell check's dictionary and rid your doc of squiggly
red lines for onscreen viewing
Re-proof copy that has changed and when it is correct, be done with it by drawing a box around it and crossing it out
Read your document backwards
Make sure your verbs and nouns agree and that your tenses match
Test any phone numbers or URLs
Get some distance on your work -- go to lunch and then proofread

When in doubt, look it up. While the trend in writing leans toward a more informal style, most of the rules we learned in school still apply. It's up to you whether you want to omit the serial comma or close up a word like website, but be consistent. Otherwise, a critical reader may think you goofed.

Judy Corcoran is a writing collaborator with Langton Cherubino Group as well as a freelance copywriter and copyeditor, who blames the nuns for her inordinate interest in grammar. She is the author of The Concise Guide to Magazine Marketing: Tips, Tools and Best Practices which is available at MagazineMarketers.com. Judy can be reached at 212-315-2449 and JudyCorc@aol.com.
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Langton Creative Group is a NY communications design firm dedicated to improving the way businesses and organizations interact with their audiences. We were founded as Langton Cherubino Group in 1990.

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