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Proof Read Everything You Publish – Then Proof It Again

with 15 comments

By Skip Cohen

I’ve had a series of communication challenges with typos and mistakes the last few weeks. I was never an “A” student in English, but at this point in my life I sure do have respect for all those English teachers I drove to the edge of nervous breakdowns. And yes, this is that moment where I realize I wish I had paid attention a little more, but don’t tell Mrs. Sabo I said that.

Many of you are going to be writing copy for brochures, websites and mail blasts. It seems very timely to publish a reminder on proof-reading. I know and respect you’re all photographers and artists first, but if you’re trying to communicate via the printed word then take the time to use a few of the tools out there that will at least help you be understood a little better.

Yesterday I was on four websites and each one was a disaster. I contacted the photographers directly, and will spare them the embarrassment, but the mistakes were amazing. I’m no Hemmingway and certainly make my share of mistakes, but I’m amazed at material being published that simply can’t be understood.

So, here are some tips I’ve found really helpful.

1) Read it out loud. You’ll often catch mistakes simply by hearing them.

2) Use spell check!

3) Read it one more time and pay attention to homonyms that spell check won’t pick up – words that sound the same, but are spelled differently, e.g. to, two, too or its and it’s, seem to be the words violated the most.

4) It won’t kill you to put in a paragraph break now and then. From SaidSimple.com: There are a few standard times to make a new paragraph:

* When you start in on a new topic
* When you skip to a new time
* When you skip to a new place
* When a new person begins to speak
* When you want to produce a dramatic effect

5) Cut down on the use of the word “that” – we all kill the word, but it takes practice to cut it out of a sentence now and then. However, your thoughts will flow so much smoother with a few less “thats”.

6)  Whenever possible have somebody else read what you’re about to publish before you put it out there.

7) If you’re about to publish something really important to you, hold it 24 hours and then go back and read it one last time, before publishing.  You’ll be surprised at how often things sound differently.

The last thing I’m trying to do is sound like the English teacher from Hell, but so many of you are so talented with a camera in your hand. It’s so sad when your description about the process and work you put into an image can’t be understood!

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Written by scottbourne

April 22, 2010 at 10:33 am

Posted in Marketing

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