Proofreading Techniques for Business Communications

Proofreading not to be confused with editing is the process of examining the final draft of a document or text — after it has been edited. This is to ensure that there are absolutely no errors. A proofreader will review your writing for spelling, punctuation, typos or incorrect use of regional English. Proofreading commercial and business documents is essential for all businesses in maintaining quality and ensuring that your texts convey their intended meaning. Even the smallest of mistakes can have significant consequences. Making an in-house checklist is a good place to start, as this helps to ensure that you can standardise the process and know what to look for when your team are proofreading a document.

In this article we set out 9 useful proofreading techniques designed to help businesses when proofreading business communication.

Proofreading Technique 1 – Make a Checklist

Often when proofreading in-house, it is easy to assume that proofreading is a quick process and just involves glancing over the document. It is however much more than this. That’s why the first thing to do is to make an in-house checklist based upon your organisations style guide. In this you can include and detail what to look out for to maintain consistency.

Proofreading Technique 2 – Print a Hard Copy

Printing a physical copy can really help pick up on things you wouldn’t have noticed. Often by staring at the screen we get used to seeing the text as it is and we fail to notice obvious issues. By having a printed copy in front of you this will also make it easier for you to read and proofread the document in different places.

Proofreading Technique 3 – Step Away & Focus

By taking a break and stepping away from the document this will help you to regain focus and take your mind off the document. If you have written the document then you will already be familiar with the text and so you will automatically overlook errors as you will be used to the text as it is. By taking a break and stepping away this will help to clear your mind and make it easier when you begin to proofread the document.

Proofreading Technique 4 – Read Aloud

By reading aloud and trying to pronounce the words this will make you more effective at spotting potential flaws. This is because the sound of your own voice will help you to focus on the words and notice any errors. It will also help you to better focus on whether the points and sentences are logical, as often when we hear words and phrases aloud they can sound different to how we imagined.

Proofreading Technique 5 – Remove Unnecessary Words

Business documents will often need to be concise, for this reason try to make the sentences direct by taking away any unnecessary words. By having extra words this can detract and also undermine the meaning and open the text to misinterpretation. By being concise this will also give the text a more professional tone.

Proofreading Technique 6 – Keep a List of Common Errors

Keeping a list of common errors can help you to identify the types of mistakes that are particularly common and help avoid them in the future. This will also make you more vigilant in spotting those types of errors when proofreading.

Proofreading Technique 7 – Look out for Homonyms

This is a particularly common mistake, homonyms are words that share the spelling or pronunciation but have different meanings. For example ‘compliment’ and ‘complement’. These can be particularly easy to overlook but by being aware of them will help you to spot them.

Proofreading Technique 8 – Look out for Apostrophes and Contractions

It is an easy mistake to incorrectly use apostrophes or confuse the use of contractions, so you should pay particular attention to these. Often it is helpful to make a list of the commonly confused contractions so you can avoid them in the future. For example “there” is a noun telling you of a point or place. “They’re” is simply a contraction for “they are.” Also “it’s” is simply a contraction for “it is.” Whereas, “its” is a possessive pronoun.

Proofreading Technique 9 – Consider Contracting a Proofreading Service

Although proofreading is a task that can be performed in-house it does take considerable time and is a specialist skill. For this reason many organisations find it easier to outsource their proofreading requirements, which allows their staff to focus on their primary tasks.

While there will be many more proofreading techniques that will help you, the ones that we have mentioned in this article should ensure that you have a good strategy in place and that your proofreading process is focussed. The most important proofreading technique will no doubt be creating your own in-house proofreading checklist which will cover common issues to look out for against your particular company style guide. This will also ensure that whoever is doing the proofreading the process remains consistent and efficient.

Our proofreading service

At Express Proofreading we offer a professional proofreading service for businesses. We are able to ensure that your written content is not only free from spelling mistakes and grammatical errors but we also check syntax and sentence structure, as well as tone to ensure that it conveys the intended meaning. To find out more information visit our Business Proofreading page or contact us today by live chat, email or phone.