January 14, 2013

The Importnce of Proofreading


Proofreading matters. And we’re not just saying that because we get paid to care about commas and have been known to carry a Sharpie to the grocery store to correct the signage (for the last time, it’s 12 items or fewer, not less!).

But even less-neurotic people care about spelling, punctuation and grammar, although they may not realize it. A study published in the Journal of Management Information Systems found that errors on e-commerce sites negatively affected the perceived quality of the store, trust in the store, and intention to purchase something from the store.

If you have great products or services, you don’t want to lose a potential client because of sloppy spelling. Last fall, a box of cereal featuring football player Chad Ochocinco ran a promotion for the charity Feed the Children. The only problem? The phone number on the box actually connected to a sex line instead of the charity. Someone slacked with the proofreading — and lots of parents had some uncomfortable explaining to do.

Even if the mistakes on your website or in your marketing materials aren’t quite that drastic, they still could be eroding trust with those who notice. When you’re making a first impression, you want to get started off on the right foot, and a blaring grammatical error isn’t the best way to do that. If you show that you lack attention to detail in one area, how can customers be sure this doesn’t extend to your product or service?

To keep your copy as clean as possible, follow these tips:

  • Always make sure there’s a second set of eyes on something. It’s nearly impossible to proofread your own work, as you’ll read it how you intended to write it — not necessarily how it’s actually written.
  • Take a break. You’ll catch more if you give yourself distance between the writing and proofreading phases. If you’re only editing a piece, take some time between the first and second reads if you can, or change the point size to challenge your eyes to see the words in a new way.
  • Print out your work. You’ll see different things in print than you do on a screen.
  • If you’re not a proud member of the punctuation police, consider hiring someone who is. Contracting out work is a small price to pay for the professional image it will help you convey.

Yes, we know there's a typo in the headline. :)

Mario Medina

Mario is the Creative Director of madison/miles media. He has a wife, two kids, a dog, a fish (but it might be dead — hard to tell) and an unhealthy obsession with Batman.