PROOFREADING: DON’T NEGLECT THE OBVIOUS

Mistakes can be funny. They can be embarrassing. And when they’re in your marketing communications materials, they can also be costly or even dangerous. That’s why proofreading is so important.

My experience has taught me that there is a certain kind of error that proofreaders miss more often than any other kind … and it’s quite possibly the most embarrassing type (except perhaps for substituting a call-in sex line’s phone number for your own).

It’s the mistake you miss because it can’t possibly be wrong. Specifically, misspellings in your company’s name, or getting your own address, web address, or phone number wrong. It sounds silly, but it happens all the time. You’re scanning over that ad with an eagle eye, but you don’t bother to read your phone number down at the bottom … so you miss the transposed digits, or the fact that there are only six digits. You’ve labored for several rounds to get that press release just right, never noticing that you omitted a letter in the company’s name in the first sentence. Or maybe you just plain forgot the phone number.

When you proofread, don’t assume that certain elements won’t require a closer read. Or you may find yourself in the same position as a long-ago client. When they advertised a futures trading workshop, they inadvertently transposed two digits in their phone number, and an elderly lady was besieged with calls from would-be commodities traders. It wouldn’t have been too bad, except that the client kept forgetting to fix the error, and re-ran the ad every couple months. As I recall, the proofreading didn’t improve until this nice but exasperated woman hired an attorney … and came away with a nice settlement.

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