Before you send out that memo, email, report, summary, letter, or any other business document, you will want to make sure that it represents your best effort. Of course, you will have checked your sources and verified your information. You know that your statistical data is correct and up to date. You have double-checked your figures and dates and every other conceivable detail.
But…wait. Is it really ready for submission? Is it possible that your document contains clunky sentences? What about those spelling demons? Those are the words that you never remember how to spell or that you confuse with other words. Then there’s punctuation! Apostrophes, commas, quotation marks, etc., etc.
What about missing words and repetitive words and inappropriate changes of tense, number, or subject?
How about tone and voice? Have you written this document so that the few or dozens or hundreds who might read it are able to understand what you are attempting to convey?
Is it ready for prime time?
What should you do? The first step in terms of proofreading a document is to read the paper to yourself, out loud, if that helps. Don’t read what you think you wrote or what you meant to write. Go through the paper line by line, word by word, as if you are a neutral reader, and not the one who put so much in terms of blood, sweat, and tears into it.
Use the spell check function on your word processing program. It will not catch every error, but it will detect most spelling and usage mistakes.
Here’s a good tip: You might want to print a copy of your work, and read it in black and white on paper. You may find that, even after carefully proofreading your work by reading it on your computer screen, you come across additional errors when you read a hard copy of it. Seeing the writing on paper may allow you to notice errors that you did not detect when you read the document on your computer monitor.
When all is said and done, if you are not sure that your document is completely correct and ready to be distributed or emailed or published, you can always refer it to a document editing and proofreading service, such as Proof-Reading.com.