When proofreading, don’t skip the familiar

Whether mistakes are just amusing, horribly damaging, or simply embarrassing, they don’t belong in your marketing communications materials. That’s why proofreading is so important.

That said, there’s a certain kind of error that proofreaders miss more often than any other … and it’s quite embarrassing (well, not as much as substituting a call-in sex line’s phone number for your own).

I’m referring to misspellings in your company’s name, or getting your own address, website, or phone number wrong. It happens more often than you think. You’re scanning over 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 numbers. You’ve labored to get that blog post 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.

Those mistakes can be costly. Just ask a long-ago client of mine. When they advertised a workshop in the basics of futures trading, 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 a big problem, except that the client kept forgetting to fix the error and re-ran the ad every couple months. The proofreading didn’t improve until this nice but exasperated woman hired an attorney … and came away with a generous settlement.