Checking your copy for mistakes is one of those jobs which nobody really likes doing. In more ways than one it’s a bit like taking out the rubbish. And just like any other time-consuming task, the devil really is in the detail. So where do people go wrong? Here are the top five misdemeanors to watch out for when you’re casting your eye over your fine prose.
Relying on Spellcheck.
I have to confess I love spellcheck but I’m not sure it loves me back. Too many times I have been stung by this fickle friend who tends to make me look a little crazy. Only recently I ‘marinated’ a file and ‘dribbled’ on a decision. Enough Mr Spellcheck – I trust ye not.
Mssing Things Out.
Whether it’s your brain jumping ahead or simply typing too quickly, it’s all too easy to leave something vital out (just check out my headline). What’s more, your head will simply fill in the gaps – making these kind of mistakes difficult to spot. Make sure you really take the time to look over your words. Don’t fall intro the trap of skimming. That’s when you leave in tiny mistakes like this you live to regret.
Back in Primary 2, punctuation was a complete mystery to me. I would stick commas everywhere looking for the perfect fit. They would spring up like tiny lead butterflies, peppering my words with just a little more sparkle. These days they tend to stay caged but every so often one makes a bid for freedom. Catch these blighters before they eat through your sentences and stop them making any sense.
I don’t believe there’s a right or wrong way to write but a few rules here and there keeps things safe for everyone involved. I’m not going to get technical here because it makes too many brains hurt (including mine). Safe to say, make sure things appear in the order they should. Remember that making copy overly complicated makes it less likely people will get to the end.
Forgetting the Big Picture.
Sometimes its easier to miss the biggest mistake on the page because the small stuff gets in the way. Print out your work so you can see it in front of you and don’t just rely on the computer screen. Headlines, straps and pull-out quotes are just as important but are often left to fend for themselves. Seeing everything in context will help you catch any mistakes before they jump off the page and into the hands of your reader.
When you’re done and through with all your wordy work, reward yourself with something nice :0)
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