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Thursday, February 28, 2013

Proofreading Tip: Do the It Test

Do you use spell check and grammar check as your proofreaders?

I typed this sentence in a document: Don't send that document until it's error free. Word flagged it's as an error and suggested using its. Is Word correct? No, this sentence is correct as is.

So, I typed four more sentences using it's, its, and its' in a Word document; here are the results:

Its a great day to walk your dog. AutoCorrect changed Its to It's after I typed the space after the a. (Word is correct.)

The dog and its owner went for a walk. No correction. (Word is correct again.)

The dog and it's owner went for a walk. Grammar check put the green zigzagged line under it's and suggested its. (Wow! Three in a row! Another one right for Word.)

The dog and its' owner went for a walk. No correction. (Word is wrong; its' should be its.)

Three out of five were correct, depending on your spelling and grammar settings.

Here are the rules:
  • It's is a contraction: it's = it is.
  • Its is the possessive for it. Possessive pronouns don't use apostrophes. This rule is confusing because nouns use apostrophes to show possession, but pronouns do not.
  • Its' is never correct.
Use CTRL+F to search for it to check its usage.
  1. Press CTRL+HOME to go to the beginning of the document.
  2. Press CTRL+F to open the Find and Replace dialog box.
  3. Type it in the Find what: text box.
  4. Press ENTER to go to each occurrence of it.
  5. Do the test: Should you use its (possessive pronoun) or it's (it is)?
Are your presentations, spreadsheets, and e-mails error free? Will it's and its be flagged correctly? Each Microsoft program has its own proofing options, so the above errors may not be detected in the different programs.

Are you willing to take the risk to use spell check or grammar check as your proofreader? How will you know if the person reading your document isn't calling you for an interview or a sales meeting because you have an error? Some people will judge you based on mistakes. Do you think its wrong? (Word flagged its, did you?) I'd love to hear what you think. Do you judge people? Please cast your vote in the proofreading survey.

You're invited to join the National Proofreading Day LinkedIn Group; please click this link to join and ask your business grammar, punctuation, and proofreading questions!

Judy Beaver, The Office Pro
Founder of National Proofreading Day

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Proofreading Tip: Proofreading Your Online Image

Have you checked your LinkedIn profile lately? Do you have the proper keywords to build your brand and visibility? When others are checking your profile, are they interested in doing business with you, in connecting with you, or in asking to meet you for an interview? Don't let a typo stand between you and opportunities. Potential clients, possible connections, and recruiters may reject you because your profile has an error.

Do you think a spelling error won't matter? Many recruiters will not consider candidates whose resumes have a mistake, and now most companies are using social media to recruit new hires.

Unfortunately, you can't rely on a spell check button in LinkedIn because there isn't one. So, what do you do? Here are some tips that may help:

Read the copy aloud. Doing this will help you find words that are missing or see the wrong word being used such as you vs. your.

Have someone review your copy. Generally, we read our documents the way we intend it to be. It's much easier for someone else to discover our errors.

Copy and paste your profile into a Word document so you can use spell check. Highlight the copy; press CTRL+C to copy. Open a new Word document, and press CTRL+V to paste. Press F7 to check for errors.

What other online errors are preventing you from connecting with others? Online dating? Facebook? Comments posted on articles and blogs? Proofread those profiles and posts, too. Be sure to project a professional image.

What suggestions do you have to help enhance your online image?

Judy Beaver, The Office Pro
Founder of National Proofreading Day

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Proofreading Tip: Spelling Proper Nouns

Some proper names exist in the electronic dictionary; however, some do not. To be sure you always spell a company name or a person’s name correctly, add it to the electronic dictionary: right-click the name; then, select Add to Dictionary. Be sure it’s spelled correctly; that way, misspellings will be flagged.

Names added to this dictionary works in the other Microsoft Office programs such as Outlook, PowerPoint, and Excel.
To delete a name from the dictionary
  1. Click the Office button (2007 Word version).
  2. Select Word Options button.
  3. Click Proofing link (left side).
  4. Click Custom Dictionaries button.
  5. Click Edit Word List button.
  6. Select word to delete from Dictionary list.
  7. Click Delete button.
  8. Click OK three times.
People don't like their names misspelled! Make a good impression.
Judy Beaver, The Office Pro
Founder of National Proofreading Day

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Proofreading Tip: Proofreading on the Computer Screen

Proofreading a printed document is easier than proofreading on the computer screen, although printing every document wastes so much paper. I love these reminders to be more green--have you seen them on people’s e-mails?

Word has several features to make on-screen proofreading easier:

Use the Zoom feature to help make the text bigger, especially to distinguish between those small punctuation marks. Is it a period or a comma? (Where are my glasses?)

In versions 2007 and 2010, the Zoom control is in the lower right corner of the status bar. Slide the marker to the right or left to increase or decrease the text.
Zoom control for 2007 and 2010
In 2003 version, the Zoom button is on the Standard toolbar.  Click the arrow to select an option, or click in the box to enter a custom percentage.
Zoom button for 2003

Text Highlight Color button
Select text that you want to double-check for accuracy or to review later with the Text Highlight Color tool.  The Text Highlight Color button is in the Font grouping on the Home tab ribbon in versions 2007 and 2010; the Highlight button is on the Formatting toolbar in version 2003. Also, create a sticky note as a reminder of what to do (use keyboard shortcut, CTRL+ALT+M).

Change your document to double-spacing for easy reading: Press CTRL+A to select the entire document; then, press CTRL+2 to double-space the document. (Press CTRL+1 to return to single spacing.)

See, it's easy to be green.

Judy Beaver, The Office Pro

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Proofreading Tip: CTRL+F Helps You Find Typos

Some of us mistype words, and we don’t see them when we’re proofreading because we read the word as we meant to type it, right? And just because they’re typos doesn’t mean that spell checker will find them because they’re words; e.g., you for your, form for from. Word can help you find these typos:

1. Press CTRL+F.
2. Type the mistyped word in the Find what: textbox (form).
3. Press Enter.

Word will find each occurrence of the word; then, you can determine if the word (form) is used properly. Continue to press Enter until the dialog box displays, Word has finished searching the document. Press Enter to close that dialog box; then click Cancel to close the Find and Replace dialog box.

Judy Beaver, The Office Pro
Founder of National Proofreading Day

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Proofreading Tip: Paired Punctuation Marks

How many times have you written an explanation or comment in parentheses and forgot to use the closing parenthesis? Some punctuation marks come in pairs. Excel will tell you it found an error in the formula if you don’t have matching parentheses. And Excel will offer a correction. The closing mark--quotation mark, parenthesis, or bracket--is easy to overlook.

In Word, use the Find command to help you. Press CTRL+F; type the beginning mark in the Find what: text box. Press ENTER to search the document. That way, you’ll find the beginning mark to see if its companion mark was typed.

Judy Beaver, The Office Pro
Founder of National Proofreading Day

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Proofreading Tip: Checking It Twice

This month, I received a newsletter that had an author's book entitled Get Client's Now! (The book's title is Get Clients Now! by C. J. Hayden. No apostrophe.) Check the source--that's an important proofreading tip. People don't like their names misspelled, and I'll bet authors don't like their book titles misspelled either.

Checking the source is worth the effort; and that's true for company names, addresses, phone numbers, dollar amounts, and numbers in a list.

Judy Beaver, The Office Pro
National Proofreading Day