Keep It Clean!
I recently presented a workshop for employees at the South Windsor Chamber of Commerce on proofreading. They thought I was going to talk mostly about typographical errors and misspelled words. But, really, proofreading is much more than that.
It’s about checking for typos and spelling errors, yes, but it’s also looking for grammatical mistakes, punctuation errors, and things that go awry in the layout and design stage. For example, inconsistent formatting of headers and sub-heads, words incorrectly divided from one line to the next, a two-line heading that’s broken in the wrong place, one word hanging out by itself on the last line of a paragraph, math errors in charts and graphs, and a host of other things that can go wrong.
I made a quick checklist for the workshop, so I thought I’d share it here. Use it to check your own marketing materials, to make sure they’re squeaky clean. You don’t want to risk your credibility by making careless mistakes.
Checklist for Print or Web Materials
Before printing or launching, ask yourself, “Did I double check…?”
__Spelling and grammar.
__My contact information.
__Member, client, sponsor, or funders’ names and contact information. __Newsletter volume, issue, date.
__Font: is it readable and consistent?
__Type size: no smaller than 12-point
__Heads and subheads: consistent layout? (italic, bold)
__Heads and subheads: do breaks make sense?
__Word breaks: have I hyphenated words correctly, and avoided ending more than 3 consecutive lines with hyphenated words?
__Widows: have I avoided the last line of a paragraph starting a new page or column?
__Orphans: have I avoided the last line of a paragraph being the end of a divided word or just a single word?
__Arithmetic errors in text, charts, and graphs
__Punctuation errors and inconsistencies (for example, serial commas or no serial commas?)
__Hyphens not used where I should have dashes
__Alphabetical or numerical sequencing
__Only one space between sentences and after colons
__No ampersands (&) in sentences; no “etc.”
__Punctuation stays inside quotation marks (in most cases)
__Abbreviations and acronyms avoided where possible
Submitted by Nancy Simonds
Writer, copy editor, proofreader