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Proofreading for everyone

The best proofreader

Who makes the best proofreader?

Authors should always, always proofread their own work but it’s too important for us to be the last proofreader. We’re just too entangled with ambitions, hopes and dreams to stand back and correct grammar and spelling properly. It might be useful for the proofreader to be on the team but only as a proofreader.

Imagine a product development team building a revolutionary new model of Flostenhammer, and one of the members writes an instruction manual. If they include an inadvertent factual error, the best person to find it would be another member of the team, because to them the mistake will be obvious. So team members should check the writing.

But there’s an important place for an outside proofreader. Imagine that the manual states:

“The octavial valve opens and closes within one cycle of the sub-vent florix, which brilliantly allows the decarpitator piston to block the invertinal port and thus prevent loss of the helium plasmoid.”

A fellow team member instinctively allows for a slight pause between “florix” and “which brilliantly allows.” Because he knows the process, he understands that the brilliance is due to the astonishing speed of the octavial valve.

The whole team is the same. Because they understand it, they experience the pause—even though the comma which should indicate the pause is missing. Their pride in the cleverly-conserved helium plasmoid means they overlook the surprising absence of the comma (in our imaginary manual, of course, the comma is there).

Without the comma, readers will think the sub-vent florix itself causes the decarpitator piston to block the invertinal port, which is ridiculous. A proofreader is attuned to every element of the punctuation and grammar.

Is that all?

So is that all we’re worried about—missing commas? No, because where it’s acceptable to omit a lawful comma, we also find spelling misfakes. Then we see words words duplicated and after that we find missing or misapplied apostrophe’s and even missing or misapplied-hyphens (don’t laugh—it happens).

These are trivial mistakes where the material is of little importance—as is much of our writing, reflecting our ordinary thinking, where sloppiness is accepted. But how sloppy do you want to be when your flagship product is highlighted in a leading journal for your top clients and prospects to see?

How many mistakes will they tolerate? People are remarkably forgiving but at some point they stop making excuses for your mistakes. They become disgusted and say goodbye.

Can they trust you?

To a conscientious independent agent tasked to examine the Flostenhammer Manufacturing Corporation and to report to the client on whether their product will suit the client’s needs for the foreseeable future, these mistakes raise a serious question mark over Flostenhammer’s suitability.

Their report will air important misgivings: “If they overlook writing errors, how else will they stumble? Is this the professional, leading-edge organisation you want to supply equipment vital to your success?”

Mistakes will occur

But you can save the situation. Sure, mistakes happen, but it’s easy to catch them. Get dependable proofreading from FastProof. Have your brochures, advertisements, product leaflets, websites, newsletters, articles, training manuals and proposals proofread before your audience sees them—and if you must have the new Flostenhammer, you’ll suggest they contact FastProof too.


– Richard Treadgold
Managing Editor

Updated 2 January, 2022

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