Proof read your copy before you pass it to your designer.
Why do it before? Because changing your copy after the design is compete will cost you money due to the in additional time it takes to make corrections.
Here are a few simple proof reading tips to help you correct and improve your copy.
1. Leave it alone, when your work is done, put it aside for whilst you do something else. Come back to it later to proof read. An hour or two? A day? It depends how long you have of course but make sure you are fresh and distant from the first draft.
2. Read it through looking to improve comprehension and punctuation, reading it aloud helps to find errors.
3. Read it again but this time look for word choice. Have you got the right words? Did you accept or except? Was it there or their? Looking for a compliment or complements? Easy mistakes to make and very common. Go through and check your writing to find these errors. Also ask yourself if there is a simpler word choice? Making your writing easier to read will make it more likely to be read, simple.
4. Double check the facts and figures and proper names. Yes including the sales hotline (you did remember to put that in?). Telephone numbers, email, website and postal addresses, all present and correct? I often wring the phone numbers to double check (did you spot my deliberate error? great).
5. Print it out and read it word by word, a different format helps you see the errors.
6. Read your copy aloud, if you struggle or stumble then you can be sure your readers will too. But at that point they will stop reading, fix the problem and read it again.
7. Get a literate friend to read it.
8. Backwards it read. Do it word by word and concentrate on the spelling, dictionary by your side and check and correct those spelling errors. Reading the words backwards helps separate the meaning from the words and helps stop your brain reading what it thinks should be written and keeps the focus on what is actually written.
9. Great, almost done, send the perfect copy to your designer and when the first draft comes back check that they have not missed anything out (or added anything that should not be there). It happens and it’s not funny when you have just received 10,000 printed booklets with text missing.
Good luck, and remember it is not the responsibility of your designer or printer to check your print files for spelling and grammatical errors. They provide drafts and then final proofs for you to approve. It is then the printer’s responsibility to make sure that the printed job is exactly as the approved proof.
Written by Steve. I am not a proof reader so please do shot me for errors in this but I do have 15 years experience in checking mail order catalogues prior to printing millions of copies. These steps have helped me and I hope they help you.