It can be frustrating: You spend time considering how best to write that business document, whether it is an email, business proposal, contract, memo, protocol, or whatever. Then you write it out, and check it as you go. After that, you read it over to make sure it is free of errors. Finally, when you are sure your document is ready for submission or publication, you allow it to be distributed…only to discover, when it is too late, that you left errors in place. Worse than that, before you notice the errors, someone else, a client, one of your co-workers, or your supervisor points out your mistakes to you.
How can you prevent this embarrassing, perhaps damaging scenario from occurring? Well, the answer comes under the heading of You Can Never Be Too Careful. When you have finished checking and rechecking, you may want to check over your work again. How? Here are some hints:
- Spell check your work. Do this before you perform your own proofreading of your document. This step will pinpoint and allow you to correct most of the serious errors. It will also provide you with an opportunity to clarify sentences and phrases that are unclear.
- Proofread and edit your written work on two levels, micro and macro. On the micro level, you should be looking for errors in spelling, punctuation, capitalization, word usage, and all other aspects of English usage that the spell checking missed. On the macro level, you should be making sure your document is clear and concise and that your thoughts flow logically and smoothly. Do this by reading your document, not sentence by sentence, but word by word (micro). This will allow you to spot and correct errors that you might otherwise not notice.
- Read your entire document on the macro level. Make sure it effectively communicates your message.
- Print it out and read it. Sometimes, you may be able to spot errors on paper that you may not notice when reading your document on a computer monitor.
- Ask someone else to read it. Before you do this, resign yourself to the possibility that the one who is reading your work will actually find errors, which, of course, is why you have asked him or her to read it. But…you cannot allow yourself to be offended by this person’s critiquing of your work.
- When all is said and done, you may want to take one more action to ensure that your written work is free or errors, properly formatted, and clearly presented—submit it to a professional proofreading and editing service.
Since a poorly written or imprecisely formulated document does not communicate its message as well as one that has been carefully written and proofread, this may be the most effective and worthwhile action that you can take in reference to your written work.