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3 Reasons Why Proofreading is an Essential Skill

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Person handwriting a letter

You can’t rely on spell check alone.

Whether your writing could use a little work or you consider yourself to be a strong writer, relying on spell check doesn’t cover all your bases. That’s where proofreading comes in.

When you’re emailing a coworker or friend, cleaning up your resume and cover letter, or typing up a report for work, taking time to go through everything sentence by sentence seems like a waste of energy when you’ve got a computer to do it for you. But spell check doesn’t catch everything. That’s why proofreading is such an important thing to do before you send your message off. Here’s why you should practice proofreading and how you can learn to get better at it!

Small typos in important emails can seem lazy.

When you’re a mostly confident writer, proofreading seems unnecessary. This can feel especially true for short communications like email. You’ve made sure to spell everything correctly while typing it up, so you just hit “send” when you’re done and you’re all set. But while you feel good about what you wrote, you also missed a few tiny typos or forgot to attach a document or add a link. No big deal, right?

That’s not 100% true. We’re all human and the occasional typo can be forgiven. A forgotten attachment can be sent in a follow up. But if it happens frequently when you’re communicating with your coworkers, clients, or supervisors, they may start to think you’re lazy or that you aren’t as committed to your job as they thought you were.

Instead of letting a stray punctuation mark or a misspelled word give others the wrong impression, take five extra minutes to review what you wrote before sending it out. If you have more than five minutes, reading the words you wrote out loud can also help you spot any language that may make it difficult to read.

Proofreading can help you focus your key points and ideas when you write.

Besides giving your reader the wrong impression of how important the topic is to you, carefully proofreading what you write can help you clear up the ideas you’re talking about.

When you reread your work, paying attention to detail, you’ll stumble upon a sentence or two that made perfect sense to you when you were writing but really is a bit of a mess. And, if it’s a mess to you, it’ll definitely make even less sense to your reader.

You don’t want to miss an opportunity to be heard clearly and get your point across! Besides them getting your message correct the first time they read it, proofreading helps you avoid potentially stressful mistakes that spell check misses. How anxiety-inducing would it be to intend to say “I have your report” and instead send “I hate your report”?

You can lose out on opportunities if you don’t proofread.

In a perfect world, you’re judged only by your demonstrated skill in your area of expertise, as well as the years of training you completed. But, often, when a reader spots more than one tiny typo, they begin to doubt you.

This isn’t a big deal with friends and family because they know you. When you’re applying for a new position at a new company, the hiring manager who reviews your information doesn’t know you. They won’t find a typo in your education history an endearing, if slightly frustrating, quirk. They will more than likely toss your resume aside and move on to a candidate who took the time to proofread and edit.

What’s effective proofreading?

Proofreading effectively is more than a quick skim of your email or essay. You want to take the time to read each sentence, and even each word, carefully. Does it make sense? If you stumble over what you’ve written when you’re proofreading, you may want to go back and consider how you can rephrase that bit.

If you’re not confident about grammar, using a tool like Grammarly can help you get better, but just like spell check, you don’t want to rely on technology totally. Researching common grammar issues online or even in an offline textbook can help you understand why what you wrote is tough to read.

If you have the time, after you write a blog, essay, or even a non-urgent email, set aside the draft for a day. If you can’t do a whole day, forget about it for a few hours, at least. When you come back to it later, you’ll be able to look at it with fresh eyes and adjust the ideas that don’t make as much sense as you thought they did. And, if you forgot to add an important link, resource, or image, you’ll catch that when you’re looking at it with fresh eyes!

Proofreading is a skill that can be learned and ICS Canada can help.

You’ve read this blog and started to feel a bit worried because you have rarely taken the time to proofread anything. When you’re in a rush to get things done, speed feels more important than accuracy. Even the best writers can make the same mistake. That’s why learning to proofread and understanding how to make it a habit can have a positive impact. If you know you can use a lesson or two in writing and communicating well, a self-paced, online certificate in Public Relations can help! Not only can you learn how to become a better writer, you’ll learn how to make your words stand out and leave an impression on the reader.

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