As an avid writer and self-proclaimed grammar nerd, I’m admittedly critical of others’ writing. Even the smallest errors jump out at me and interrupt my reading, if only for a second. Writing is hard, and English (especially American English) is confusing at best. Add to that the reduction in reading as kids, and our writing just gets worse. Even the kids that do read struggle because most of what they’re reading uses improper grammar.
I’m not suggesting my writing is perfect; no one’s is. And I break a lot of the rules–did you notice I started that sentence with and? We also tend to proofread our own writing in the way we hear it in our head. We don’t notice our mistakes because we know what we meant to say. For all these reasons (and countless others), it’s important to get a second or third set of eyes on everything we write.
Why Good Writing is Important
Will it be read by a potential or current customer? You’d be surprised how many times I’ve left a website or tossed a brochure aside because the writing was terrible. They just lost me as a customer. Will it be read by your boss or teacher? That person is directly and indirectly responsible for your future success. What will your writing tell them? Will it be read by a coworker? Maybe you’re just leaving a progress note for them, so they know what needs to be done. But–if it’s poorly written, your note may mislead them, and the project could derail.
Consider These Tips to Improve Your Proofreading:
- Print a hard copy: While it may sound old fashioned, printing a copy and proofreading with a red pen is far more effective than proofreading on the screen.
- Read aloud: When we read in our heads, we again read what we meant to say and not necessarily what we wrote. Reading aloud really lets us hear it.
- Get another set of eyes: When you think it’s perfect and ready to go, ask someone else to read it, and have them follow the first two tips: provide a hard copy and red pen for them, and ask them to read it aloud.