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Monday, May 31, 2010

Revising and Proofreading

Experts agree that editing is the key to good writing. Do you take the time to review your document? Proofread it for errors, and review it for conciseness and clarity. Can you use fewer words to make your point? Can you rearrange paragraphs or words to make it easier to understand, more logical?

Revising and proofreading are two different processes. Revising is improving the content for clarity, conciseness, and readability, whereas proofreading is creating copy that is 100 percent accurate. Experts recommend to revise first, and then proofread.

Are you a good proofreader? Typically, people who read slowly are good proofreaders because they don’t skip words. Place a piece of paper or ruler under the line you’re reading to force yourself to slow down. Give yourself plenty of time to review your document; otherwise, you’ll rush through it.

Most of us don’t like to proofread because it’s boring. Set your document aside for at least 24 hours. That way, you’ll be reading it with a fresh set of eyes.

Because editing is a way to become a better writer, be sure to take the time to review your documents before they are sent or distributed. Professionalism in written documents includes accuracy and easy-to-read, understandable content.

Some excellent resources for better business writing are Essentials of Business Communication by Mary Ellen Guffey (South-Western Cengage Learning, 2010), Why Business People Speak Like Idiots by Brian Fugere, Chelsea Hardaway, and Jon Warshawsky (Free Press, 2005), and The Truth About the New Rules of Business Writing by Natalie Canavor and Claire Meirowitz (Pearson Education, Inc., 2010).

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Proofreading Tips

The countdown to the BEE has started! The 2010 Scripps National Spelling Bee website has the countdown clock displayed on its home page; the annual competition is being held June 2 -4 with 274 spellers, ranging from 8 to 15 years old. Did you see the boy who fainted during the 2004 National Spelling Bee and then stood up to successfully spell his word? If you missed it, check out the YouTube video. Amazing!

These spellers are always welcome in my classes. They would never be guilty of the misspellings I’ve seen: fananimal [phenomenal], unfourtnatly [unfortunately], and rein burst [reimbursed], just to name a few.

Didn’t they see the red zigzagged underline that tells them the word is misspelled? While phenomenal is a difficult word to spell, I’m not sure what happened with fananimal. Laziness? Unfourtnatly was handwritten. Rein and burst are words in the electronic dictionary. (Yes, it was spelled as two words because that’s the first option for AutoCorrect, if you spell reimbursed as reinburst. Too bad—the correct spelling of reimbursed is the second option in AutoCorrect.)

I’m horrified when I send a document with a typo! Proofreading seems to be a lost “art,” especially with our hurried communications—e-mail, texting, etc. So, here are some tips for proofreading:

Turn on spell checker. While spell checker may not identify all typos, it’ll help.

Read out loud. Spell checker will not find words that are mistyped if it’s a legitimate word. Reading out loud helps us to find mistakes that we typically don’t see when we silently proofread.

Assume you’ll find errors. Many of us tend to read the copy the way we intended it to be. If you’re actually looking for errors, you may find them.

Add frequently used proper nouns to the electronic dictionary. Be sure to spell the person’s name correctly; then you’ll know it’s spelled incorrectly when the red zigzagged underline appears. (Right-click the name, and select Add to Dictionary.)

Use the Find command to identify common typing errors. Some of us mistype words (form for from, you for your, etc.) can be easily spotted if you use the Find command to help you proofread.

• Press Ctrl+F

• Type the mistyped word in the Find what textbox (for example, form)

• 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 the dialog box; then click Cancel to close the Find and Replace dialog box.

Would you like to share some of the spelling errors you’ve seen?