February 7, 2023

Check Your Work2Improve

Mister Starr was my 10th grade geometry teacher. I didn’t do so well in his class. I do, however, remember him clearly reminding our class to “check your work.”  Admittedly, even when I checked it; I got a lot of problems wrong.  However, when I went back and checked what I was doing, I often found mistakes in my computations.

Today, when I write or do proposals, checking my work often results in me improving the product or finding a stronger way to communicate what I am trying to convey. Proofing your work is paramount to successfully completing a project, yet . . .

How often do we take a shortcut or completely skip that step?

Time is critical, and that proposal or piece of copy or social media post must get handled right away. We don’t have time to get a proofer on it. Frankly – you don’t have time to skip that important step. Trust me when I say, there isn’t a mistake made at my company that I haven’t made myself at some point in the last decade. Shortcutting the proofing process is one oversight I must confess to making more than once.

It’s an oversight I endeavor never to make again. Admittedly, I probably will, but there are always consequences when we do. 

Some Examples4You

Typos don’t just happen to regular folks like you and me. Here’s a perfect example of a network telecast in the NBA Finals on a major national broadcast.

It’s not just spelling, grammar, and punctuation. If you want the best example of one of these errors that went uncaught you can message me on LinkedIn and I’ll share it with you personally so you can say, “wow."  

A proofreader will catch things that cause confusion too. Like the time I worked for an NBC affiliate, and they wanted us to sell commercials in an ice-skating sports special called, “Ray Charles on Ice." That event title could mean a lot of different things.

Often when we write we know what we mean, or we eliminate key words in a push to simplify, or to fit copy into a tight space. That can create problems too.  I’m sure this North Carolina convenience store marketing team didn’t intend that their sign would read the way this one does.

By now you get my point. “Check your work” like Mister Starr said. Get a fresh set of eyes on what you produce. And make certain that proofreading is a key part of your process.

other similar insights

Check out these related insights from deep within our archives!

November 20, 2017
Bench Strength
February 20, 2015
Gambling on (or for) Productivity