Why You Need a Proofreading Team .pdf
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Writing in the workplace
Why you need a proofreading team
by Summer Turner
Once upon a time I compiled and edited a 594-page book for
a man who already had an enthusiastic publisher and a large,
eagerly awaiting readership. I’m proud of that book. However,
I cringe and blush every time I think of the “howler” that almost
made it into print.
The passage described an event the author had witnessed in India:
A gathering where thousands of people swarmed into a large
pandal, an open-sided tent. It was a familiar scene to members
of my proofreading team, who have seen films of the event.
The original wording stated, “... a colorful stream of humanity
making its way to the rear end of the giant panda.”
I never caught this cringe worthy mistake, despite countless
proofreading sessions. Neither did four of the five members of my
proofreading team. Fortunately, one did catch it. Her email to me
said, “I never saw THAT in the films!”
Needless to say, I corrected the error and also decided I’d better
get rid of the author’s colloquial term “rear end.”
I’m continually amazed at how hard it can be to proofread one’s
own work. Every time I’d read that passage, I’d “seen” the word
pandal, not panda. Because our brains “see” what our mind
intends, we can’t always see what’s actually on the page. That’s
why we need a proofreading team.
A proofreading team doesn’t have to be anything too formalized.
It can even consist of smart relatives, like my team. If you’re in a
workplace, you already have a pool of proofreading prospects.
For your proofreading team, choose people who:
• Are voracious readers. People who like to read tend to pay
closer attention to language. Plus, they’re less likely to resist
reading anything you put in front of them.
• Are familiar with your industry and jargon. If your writing
involves a lot of specialized terms or complex concepts, you’ll
want proofreaders who will understand your document
enough to recognize mistakes.
• Are unfamiliar with the particular document. If your
proofreading team consists of people who had something to
do with writing the content in the first place, they’re more
likely to be in the same boat you are: Their brains won’t let
them see the errors as quickly or easily. You want fresh eyes.
• Are willing to help. You want people who are on your side
and want you to succeed. Proofreading requires a time
commitment. Your cheerleaders and true friends are more
likely to invest quality time in proofreading your document.
(Of course, you’re going to offer to reciprocate, right?)
Having a proofreading team doesn’t guarantee that every mistake
will be caught. But if you don’t have a proofreading team, your
errors will get published. And once your writing is published, it’s
out there forever. Better to form a trustworthy proofreading
team. They’re your best insurance against embarrassment.
In Your Workplace
Summer Turner is the owner of Business
Writing Breakthrough LLC, “A full-service
consultant when workplace writing
excellence is a must!” Turner can be
reached at email@example.com.
The more proofreaders you recruit, the better your
chances of sending out an error-free document.
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3/19/14 12:03 PM
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