How to Not Send 8,000 Misspelled Bags to Missouri State University
Last Friday’s newsletter ran one of our biggest stories ever, “Missouri State University Misspells Name on Over 8,000 Promotional Bags.” Either you guys are really into schadenfreude, majorly concerned with proofreading, or maybe just HUGE Missouri State fans (obviously the most likely answer. Go Crazy Beavers! Or whatever their mascot is! I don’t really follow college sports! Because they’re so boring! Unlike exclamation points, which are the best!!! See?!?!?!)
Anywho, the story brought in a huge amount of traffic for us. And while I don’t have much to say about schadenfreude (“It’s great” pretty much covers it,) or college sports (see above), I can talk a little about proofreading (it’s partly how I make my living after all.) So, if you’re worried about ending up like the poor souls who let a relatively big typo slip by their eyes, indulge and absorb yourself of my proofreading advice below.
1. For the Love of God and Kittens, Use Spell Check On Every Single Thing You Write
Your computer’s spell check is not perfect, but that doesn’t matter. Spell check is where your proofreading starts on every bit of copy you write. It doesn’t matter if you’re working in a word processor or not. Take the text you write, copy and paste it into Word or TextEdit or whatever, then look for the red squiggly lines. If there are red squiggly lines, either you or your computer is dumb. Figure out which of you it is, then make the necessary corrections. Green squiggly lines also aren’t good, so you should look at correcting those as well.
I can’t tell you the amount of third-party copy I look at every day that obviously hasn’t been spell-checked. It’s horrendous because it takes roughly two clicks to spell-check something, and it’s a really efficient and painless way to remove 9/10 of the errors from your piece. I’m not sure why more people don’t do it, other than arrogance and gross sloth, but I think we can agree, those aren’t palatable excuses. (“Sorry Mr. Client, I didn’t proof that thing because I didn’t feel like it, and also who cares?”) So please, just spell-check every single line of copy you write. It takes like 4 seconds and you’ll be surprised by the number of errors you catch.