For someone that has provided copyediting and proofreading services to clients for a few years now, I cannot stress enough on the need for a final check by expert eyes on the language and flow of your copy when working on newsletters and brochures, especially if they are external facing, for marketing to clients and other interested parties, but also if they are intended as internal communications for staff or shareholders. Nothing reduces your credibility in the eyes of a coworker or other professional, colleague or acquaintance more than when you commit a blatant error in your correspondence when it comes to language use, word choice, copy flow, typos, and that can sometimes even extend to local nuances given how much interactions now occur across geographic locations, with teams working in different countries for the same firm.
But I am fluent in...
That’s not to say you don’t already have a good grasp of the language but when you work over time with the same copy, your eyes tend to glaze over sentences and your brain tells you what you are used to reading than what you are actually reading. Happens to the best of us. Some of us develop tactics to work with that but not all of us can consider that a strong point in our skill sets. It is perfectly normal to make these mistakes, to err is human. But not everyone and every case bring forth the divine that can forgive these snafus. Not when it’s a report going to shareholders. And certainly not when its marketing material being printed for the next few months of roadshows. An electronic message might still save you some grace – there could sometimes be the opportunity for a message recall or a quick ‘Oops’ message and a correction but that’s not always possible and shouldn’t be the default attitude you work with on such projects.
But I can speak in...
And if you do not have native fluency in that language then you positively need to have an expert eye give your copy a final look see to make any last minute corrections before it heads out to intended parties. There is a lot that can be lost in translation first and foremost. If this is not the language that you think in, dream in or yell in when you are angry, then you need to have it proofread by someone who does. That’s a simple way of looking at it. Your word choice of flow of phrases need to match the message you are sending and the audiences receiving it. If you do not know why or how that is different, try sending your marketing collateral to your shareholders and your annual report to your staff to see at which points they catch themselves questioning what they are reading. Those are your language roadblocks. It should never come to that point and a copyeditor or proofreader can quickly point that out to you.
But I am adept at...
The luxury of having another pair of eyes look at your copy is sometimes truly a luxury for companies working with restricted budgets, small staff or quick turnarounds but is it worth the risk of having folks you work with think you are unprofessional? A fresh pair of eyes reviewing your content will quickly point out to you when they see flaws in your sentences, the gradual progression of your ideas, your calls to action, glaring typos, or even simple commonly committed word crimes (I’m looking at you = there, their and they're / form and from). Often times, though not too often, these errors can be overlooked but many times they can cause misunderstanding and even change the very meaning of what you were implying from the first sentence to the last on your memo. Especially if you are under a time crunch and trying to produce content in a hurry, there is a pretty good chance, even with multiple people on your team taking a look at it, that there is a typo or redundancy somewhere that wasn’t caught in time.
Here are a few quick tips for a checklist to ensure your newsletter or brochure is reviewed at all the right points for correct copy:
These are just a few instances and some of the more common areas where I observe errors in copy when I proofread or copyedit documents from clients.
If you’d like to work with me on ensuring your communications and correspondence, internal or external, irrespective of audience and messaging, is on point and reads as intended, feel free to schedule time for a free 15-minute introductory call on how we can collaborate toward your professional success.
If you prefer to dive into a more detailed call on your current needs/projects and a long-term work arrangement, the 60-minute client call would be a suitable option I’d recommend. Talk to you soon!
Nope, not doing it, but I am helping a client edit and proofread their book on technical writing which is turning out to be quite the eye opener. It is a great effort, lots of information written in a clear and concise manner, very interestingly explained with images and graphs and such. My client has sure put in a lot of effort so I am hoping I can do a good job with the editing part of it. Have to deliver in about 2 days so I will sign off now and focus on that :)