Friday, March 5, 2010

The Perils of Careless Proofreading

Blame the growth of text messaging; or the modern ease of copying messages as opposed to the old “retype the whole thing” approach; or today’s rush-rush mentality; but people just aren’t proofreading the way they used to. Though no one expects e-mail memos to conform to Pulitzer Prize standards, even professionally published books are now laden with typos any third-grader should have caught. As for proofreading standards applied to the average business brochure: I have considered going into professional expos with twenty-five $10 bills and offering one of those bills to anyone who hands me a brochure I can’t find a misprint in. I’d be willing to bet I could go to every booth without losing the whole $250.

Following is a top-ten sampler of the funniest typos I sighted in 2008-2009 alone (italics added):
1. Online form error message: “In valid Web site format.”
2. Writer’s market guide: “You will find a dollar sign ($) in front of the periodicals that ate paying markets.”
3. Daily-trivia calendar: “Lightening starts more forest fires…”
4. Ripley’s Believe It or Not! book: “…more members than the Untied Nations.”
5. Inspirational reader: “The early bird gets the word.”
6. Major writers’ newsletter: “…favorite books… whether they are classics or more recent tiles.”
7. Online writing-articles database: “For some, walking slowly and methodically allows them to think things through, while for others, too slow provides too much distraction…. On the other hand a very rapid face can leave you out of breath…”
8. Major nature magazine: “…avoid undo exposure to predators.”
9. Business e-newsletter: “was generating over $10 million per month in gross review…”
10. Rendering of Bible quote by major religious publisher: “Cod opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

And as a bonus, my all-time favorite, still fresh in mind years after first sighting:

Voter’s guide: “…ten years in pubic service.”

It’s funny when someone else makes the mistake, but do you really want your business to be best remembered for such a gaffe?

Failure to proofread can also have results that definitely aren’t funny. First, it can leave a decidedly negative impression of your business. People will overlook one mistake; but if your written communications average 10 typos per 100 words, how long will it take potential customers to start wondering if you’re as careless with your primary services?

Sloppy proofreading can also lead to serious and costly inconvenience. The seminar announcement that reads “we will meet at 7 a.m.” instead of “7 p.m.”; the business address listed as “1001 Richmond” instead of “10001 Richmond,” or even as “Norwalk, CT” instead of “Norwalk, CA”; the Web link that leads nowhere because the address was mistyped—how much time is wasted annually because people take such messages as they are written?

However great a hurry you’re in, never think of proofreading as a waste of time. Carelessness here can hurt you and those whose opinions you value.

Despite what many would-be novelists think, good writing is not easy. It is, however, vital—especially when your reputation and customer relationships are riding on it. Don’t steal time from your business’s primary mission to struggle with written communications. Contact Spread the Word Commercial Writing today and learn how professional help can save you time and frustration!

“Anything Worth Writing Is Worth Writing Right”™

No comments:

Post a Comment