So you’ve done it. You’ve written a brilliant piece of literature, the perfect cover letter or a snappy-yet-professional email.
You’re ready to send your handiwork but something catches your eye: it may be a lowercase letter, missing punctuation or even a misspelled subject line that can make the difference between great and sloppy writing.
Here are five tips on why proofreading will benefit you.
1. Job applications
One criterion that can come up when applying for a job is ‘attention to detail’, which can spell doom if your application is ruined by spelling, grammar or punctuation errors. Your future employer probably won’t believe that you’re as detail oriented as you claim to be if you have neglected to proofread your own application.
Developing your proofreading skills will also boost your transferable skills as close attention to spelling and grammar is considered one of the seven most universal job skills.
Successful communication is the lifeblood of a business. Making your emails and all other communications professional and courteous can only improve and build relationships with stakeholders and colleagues.
Keeping an eye on how your communications are written can make a massive difference to how you’re perceived at work but will also demonstrate to your colleagues, clients and stakeholders that you have shown enough care to ensure your communication is clean, clear, polite and professional.
How often do you receive an email, text or instant message and struggle to understand the basic meaning? If you’ve answered ‘daily’ then you’re not alone. Ensuring your own communications are clear and succinct will mean less confusion and you won’t need to worry about being the person who abbreviated every possible word into an undecipherable mess.
If you want to brush up on your grammar without having to enrol in an English major, websites such as Grammar Girl offers quick and relevant tips to improve your writing skills.
4. Don’t skip the final step
We’re often not aware of how much a run-on sentence or the lack of a comma can affect what we’re trying to say, and if you’re up until 2am trying to finish that last paragraph, it may be tempting to just send your document without checking it once it’s done.
However, skipping the proofreading stage and relying on spellcheck to autocorrect your mistakes is never a good idea. You run the risk of spelling, formatting and/or grammatical errors littering your essay, report, email or application (especially if your autocorrect is set to US spelling).
If you don’t have the time or brainpower to check your work, there are free grammar-checker apps such as Grammarly that can help you identify errors that spellcheck would miss.
Practicality aside, we all love a good autocorrect meme but no one wants to be the author of the screenshot that gets posted on Instagram or Facebook. Ensuring your messages, texts, and instant messages are critique-proof can make the difference between folding or fondling your laundry.
Double-checking your written communication for clarity and word choice will also reduce ambiguity and minimise any ridicule for using there, their, and they’re and other spelling and grammar traps.
No matter your writing task, proofreading will mean the difference between a haphazard, rushed job and an impressive, thoughtful piece of work. If you are interested in learning how to boost your professional writing and proofreading skills, have a look at our Writing for Work short courses.
Chris Bell has been working for CAE short courses as a program support officer for seven years and has a great passion for writing and publishing. He is currently completing a Bachelor of Arts (Professional Writing and Publishing) at Curtin University. In his free time, Chris has written content for checkpointgaming.com as well as edited content and podcasts for JOY 94.9.