An ongoing request you’ll hear almost daily at The Hodges Partnership is, “Does anyone have time to proof this?” And with good reason. When you’ve spent a lot of one-on-one time with a news release, blog post or op-ed, it’s easy to overlook mistakes, and we all know how that goes – as soon as you hit send or press publish, then you notice there’s an extra word or typo.
The good news? There’s hope, because there are a number of resources available (some that are right in front of you) to make your life easier the next time you’re feeling blurry-eyed in the front of computer and don’t have any more brainpower to read things over again.
- The Associated Press Stylebook. File this under the thing that should be on every PR pro’s desk. The Associated Press Stylebook is a great writing resource that is updated on a regular basis with rules on everything from grammar to capitalization to numeral usage. You can purchase it online or use the website to take pop quizzes or get tips. Bonus: If you follow @APStylebook on Twitter, you’ll get timely updates like this March Madness guide. (Yes, you should capitalize the T in tournament when writing NCAA Tournament.
- Use the search function at a reliable source. Whenever I need a speedy way to check grammar, I turn to Google. I search for whatever word or term I’m stuck on using a website I trust, such has The New York Times or The Washington Post. That way, I can see how a word or phrase has been used in recent context and get a better idea of how to apply it in my own work.
- My favorite keyboard function, Control + F. Or Command + F, if you’re a Mac user. No matter which one you use, it’s is a handy tool for searching for a word. I like to use it to make sure I’m not using the same word over and over in a news release or pitch, which can be all too easy to do. It also challenges me to find a new word or think outside of the box a little bit more, which I appreciate.
- Grammarly. Grammarly is free grammar checking tool. I use it alongside my email, with the software underlining things in red that need to be double-checked. Grammarly also has an online grammar check tool you can use if it’s something you can see yourself using only on more of a one-off basis.
- The buddy system. This is where the “Does anyone have time to proof?” comes in, and it’s probably my favorite tip of all. A second set of eyes is critical, and it’s something we to do regularly here at Hodges.
At a bare minimum, the next time you’re working on something, print it out and read it through line by line. Chances are, you’ll catch something you didn’t see on your computer screen!
What are your favorite proofreading tips?