The devil’s in the details: Tips for effective proofreading

We do a lot of things at Lilja, from PR and social media campaigns to business and family histories to internal newsletters. But one thing is true across all our projects: the devil is in the details.

There is nothing worse than finding another typo after the press release has gone out or the book comes back from the printer. Quality work communicates professionalism and credibility, and an error can undermine that message.

To catch all those little details, here are our top tips for proofreading anything:

Read it backwards. Especially if you’ve been working on something for a while, it helps to start at the end and work your way to the beginning, reading each word aloud. This way, your brain can’t fill in missing words or letters, and you focus on each word.

Google everything. Double-check spelling of names, places, publications, companies, and anything else you can Google.

Be consistent. If you have one, use a style guide to be consistent across your work. But some things won’t be caught in a style guide. Take the following example:

  • Say “Yes” to this program.
  • Say “yes!” to this program.
  • Say yes to this program.

All of these are acceptable ways to write that sentence. But if you aren’t consistent, they’re going to start looking wrong. Pick one and stick with it.

Don’t forget the big text! Check the headline. Check the date. Check the spelling of your organization’s name. Readers’ eyes are drawn to the big text first – make sure there are no errors there before you move on to the rest of the piece.

Use fresh eyes. Once you've been working on something for a while, it can be hard to catch errors. Sometimes, the best thing is to step away, do something else for a bit, and return to the piece with fresh eyes. You can also have a coworker (or Lilja Communications) look over your work for a completely new perspective.

 

Posted by: Stephanie Kaczynski