Posted: Sep 15, 2017
By: Natalie Ebel
The Power of Proofreading
Eighty per cent of American adults 18 and older consider themselves to be good spellers, but according to a survey by Dictionary.com, we may be overestimating our spelling capabilities.
Of the 2,052 people surveyed:
71 per cent said they often find spelling mistakes in correspondence from others
74 per cent, aged 18-34, are bothered by mistakes on social media
59 per cent across all age groups said improper grammar is their biggest pet peeve when it comes to the English language
By no means do we all have to be world-class wordsmiths, but a simple proofread can go a long way – whether you’re writing an email to your boss, an article for publication or an opinion-filled post on Facebook.
We spoke with Jason Winders, Director, Editorial Services at Western University and our Editing Workshop instructor, for some of his tips and tricks when it comes to writing, editing and proofreading.
Don’t forget your audience.
For Winders, the biggest mistake he sees in writers is they often forget (or ignore) their audience.
“Before pen touches paper, or fingers tap keys, you must know for whom you are writing,” Winders said. “Be it for a general audience of millions, or for a single soul, everything is driven by the destination of your words. Too often, writers write for themselves. That is fine for a diary or journal, but not for anything else. Good communication is a two-way street.”
Use the tools available to you.
“You don’t think less of a carpenter for using a saw instead of gnawing a plank off with his or her teeth, right? So it doesn’t make you any less of an editor if you use the tools of your trade – dictionaries, style guides, official websites, the expert at the next desk. The goal is accuracy. There are no style points in editing.”
Read the words aloud.
“No matter if you are writing or editing, oftentimes, things sound correct in our minds, but when thrown into the world out loud, they make no sense at all. If you read it aloud, dare I say perform it even, you will hear everything – unnecessary repetition, wordiness of a section, weakness of a verb, awkwardness of a construction, blahness of a phrase. Embrace the music of language in your writing. There is art even in the more commonplace copy.”
Interested in enhancing your written communication skills?
Winders’ course, Editing Workshop: Achieving Accuracy and Professionalism, starts up this November!