What happens when you don’t proofread?

Publishing and marketing move at such a speed that often there’s no time for proofreading.

Even if you don’t worry about commas in the right place or correct use of apostrophes, proofreading ensures that basic information is correct.

This is what happened in several cases where text was not proofread properly:

  1. Editorial staff accidentally mistyped a contact phone number for an event listing so that a private individual was annoyed by nuisance phone calls and the event organiser lost customers.
  2. Marketing staff at a theatre provided incorrect performance dates for a newspaper events guide so readers could have missed out on seeing a production.
  3. A PR agency included the logo of its client in a press release but never referred to it in the text, instead mentioning the parent company. The confusion required research into the relationship between the company and its parent to make sense of the press release.

Getting basic information right is essential. Proofreading often highlights simple but important errors. It also highlights confusion or unclear meaning where the reader has no idea what the writer is trying to say.

How much do errors and confusion cost businesses in lost customers or sales? Is it worth building time for proofreading into production schedules?

What is English?

Recently, we’ve been working for several clients who have widely differing views of the English language as used in business.

First, there’s the client who prefers heavy punctuation with commas, semicolons and other marks used at every possible opportunity to help the reader fully understand the message in the text.

Then there’s the client who prefers minimal punctuation, which leads the reader to stop frequently because it’s not always easy to understand what is being said.

There are advantages and disadvantages to both approaches. Heavy punctuation can help to ensure the meaning is understood, but can get in the way. Light punctuation keeps the text uncluttered, but can hinder understanding.

The whole point of punctuation is to guide and help the reader. Surely, the best approach is to use sufficient punctuation to enable the reader to read at a good speed and to understand what is being said.

Writing for business usually requires the message to be understood fully, quickly and easily. The best way to achieve this is to put personal preferences aside and use only the punctuation that the readers needs, because if the reader can’t understand the writing, it’s a waste of everyone’s time.

Robert Zarywacz

email: hello@z2z.com
Telephone: 0333 0444 354