Proofreading tips to avoid embarrassing your brand

There’s nothing that irks me more than when a company has spent heaps of money on marketing, advertising or promotional materials but has failed to pay a proofreader. When you decide, or when the agency you’ve hired decides, not to pay a proofreader, there’s a chance all that hard work and all the money it costs to print pretty things go to waste.

I recently attended a fantastic booze-tasting event where each guest was given a 78-page brochure showcasing the various spirits that were on offer. Unfortunately, no one had hired a proofreader. As a result, the brochure was littered with clangers, leaving me with a bitter taste in my mouth (and I’m not talking about the tonic water).

Many of these errors could have been cleared up by someone, anyone, simply reading the brochure, while others required a keener eye. In any case, here are my top tips to help you avoid making the same mistakes.

Spell it right
Basic slip-ups are usually picked up by a quick spell-check, but if you know there are certain spellings you struggle with, take the time to look them up in an online dictionary or ask someone else to make sure they’re right. On this page alone the following mistakes were made: your instead of you and you’re; seperated instead of separated; and deceide instead of decide.

Read it aloud
If you’re worried about embarrassing blunders, take the time to read everything back once it’s been written. Sometimes reading aloud can help, as it forces you to read more slowly and say what is actually in front of you.

Be consistent
If you’ve made a style decision, be sure to apply it consistently. In the case of this brochure, the writers could not decide whether gin and vodka should be capitalized or not, resulting in a messy mixture throughout.

Don’t forget to fact-check
If you print the wrong time or the wrong email address, you risk frustrating customers or losing them entirely. The facts are important and none more so than contact information, directions, dates, and the names of people, products, and brands. If you’re representing other partner companies, you need to be especially careful. There were numerous misspellings of brands in this brochure.

Hire a proofreader
Paying a professional to look over your work might seem like an unnecessary outlay, but reprinting due to misinformation or reputational damage is far more costly and time-consuming. The peace of mind you’ll have knowing your customers won’t find any embarrassing or potentially damaging mistakes in your copy is worth the cost alone.

I’ve saved a number of high-profile brands from making some rather shocking mistakes. If you’d like to avoid embarrassment by working with me on your next project, please get in touch.