Entries Tagged 'proofreading' ↓

Proofreading Blunders Will Cost You Dearly

proofreading blunders

I don’t know whether you saw it, but last week I posted on Briar Copywriting’s blog about the £8.8m proofreading blunder.

Well, according to a recent article in the i newspaper, it would appear that failing to proofread things isn’t  modern day phenomena and it has led to some startling results.

Just in case the image above is hard to read, here are the 6 proofreading errors:

Peak Humiliation

The UK’s biggest tourism drive, which cost £125m, sought to entice visitors to our shores in 2012. Unfortunately, a global poster campaign had to be pulled as it referred to the Brecon Beacons as the ‘Breacon Beacons’.

Rough Trade

A trader on the Tokyo stick exchange wanted to trade one share at 610,000 yen in 2005. Instead, he accidentally sold 610,000 shares at one yen each. His firmlost an embarrassing 27bn yen (£150m).

Stroke of Luck

A US car dealership produced 50,000 scratch-cards offering $1,000 in 2007. A misprint resulted in every ticket being a winner. The firm appeased customers by offering them gift cards, setting it back $250,000.

NASA’s Dashed Hopes

A single missing hyphen in the coding used to set trajectory and speed of Mariner 1, NASA’s first interplanetary probe, caused the craft to deviate from the correct course moments after take-off in 1962. The £53m craft was destroyed.

One For The Books

In 1631 printer Robert Barker produced 1,000 Bibles for Charles I, but an omitted ‘not’ meant the Seventh Commandment read “Thou shalt commit adultery”. The book was dubbed the Wicked Bible and Barker went out of business.

And Finally…

The search engine giant Google was actually supposed to be named ‘Googol’, but when registering the domain name in 1997, a slip of the finger resulted in the website we know today.


Thanks i!

What Happens When Proofreading Goes Wrong (or ignored)

You may recall our last post was about Proofreading Like a Professional. Typos

Well, I had to giggle when I saw a recent post on Hubspot’s blog showing 14 of the worst typos ever seen.

The first thing to remember is that typos do happen. Sometimes it doesn’t matter how often you read and re-read a document, one of the slippery little suckers will still slip through. And it can happen to anyone.

When I read something and I spot a typo, I don’t dance around the room with glee and instantly rattle of an email pointing out their error, but I do smile to myself. We are all human and we all make mistakes, so don’t rub people’s noses in their errors (especially the little ones) because at least it shows the article was written by a real person.

Anyway, enough of my ramblings, you’re probably itching to see the blunders.

Grab a coffee and take a read – here are the 14 worst typos ever seen.

Proofreading Like a Professional

No one is perfect (no, not even you) and that’s why proofreading is an essential skill for any writer. Proofreading

Copywriting, blogging, emails etc., must all be error free if you want to build your reputation. Yes, sometimes, despite your best efforts errors will slip through, but it’s important to make sure you minimise this from happening.

To help you out, here are a few tips to improve your proofreading.

1. Not now!

However tempting it may be to proof your copy or blog post as soon as you’ve written it, don’t.

Leave it for at least an hour (preferably 24) before checking it, that way it should be easier to read what you have actually written as opposed to what your brain thinks you’ve written.

2. Hard copy

Yes, I know we’re supposed to be in a paperless age, but it’s a proven fact that reading from a hard copy is much easier than from a screen, maximising your chances of finding all the errors.

3. Silence

If you get distracted you’ll miss typos, so make sure you turn off your social media alerts, email and phone so you can concentrate on the job in hand.

Then read through slowly, marking the errors as you find them in red pen (just like school days). Make sure you mark where each correction is by adding an ‘x’ beside the relevant line in the margin.

4. Loud and clear

Read it out loud too. This will help spot any punctuation errors or typos you have missed and it will help you hone your conversational writing style.

5. Check details

If you have people or brand names in your document double check to make sure you’ve spelt them correctly. The same goes for any other details (facts and figures) and web links.

6. Last call

Once you’ve gone through all these steps and made the corrections to your document, give it one more read through before you publish it or, if it is a piece of copy, send it on to your client.

Granted, none of this is ground breaking stuff, but considering your reputation is at risk, it is essential.

Do you have any other tips you can add?

If so, leave a comment below.


Sally Ormond – Copywriter, MD at Briar Copywriting and blogger.


Proofreading – Again

Yes, I know, us copywriters are always banging on about the important of proofreading.

And no, I’m not going to claim to be whiter than white in that area. I am human, I make mistakes, but I do my utmost to stop any typos slipping through.

You may have seen this on Facebook recently (it’s appeared in my timeline several times):

The importance of proofreading

Go on, admit it. You had to read it twice, didn’t you?

See how easy it is to let a mistake slip through?

So how can you make sure your typos are spotted before it’s too late?

Two pairs of eyes are better than one

One of the best ways of proofing your work is to get a trusted colleague to read it through for you.

By trusted I mean someone you know who will actually read every word rather than skimming it.

Because they haven’t written it, they are more likely to spot any errors you’ve made.

That’s great if you work with other people, but what happens if you’re a freelancer working on your own?

Going solo

Proofing your own work is tricky.

You wrote it, you know what you wanted to say, so your brain has the tendency to trick you into thinking what you thought you wrote is actually what is on the page.

Of course, you could hire in a proofreader to check your work for you. But that adds an additional cost to your work that you’ll either have to absorb or pass on to your clients.

The other option is the one I use. Yes, it’s time consuming, but it does pick up your errors.

First, once you’ve written your copy put it to one side – preferably for at least 24 hours – and go and do something else.

Then, print it out.

OK, I know, that’s not very environmentally friendly, but reading off a screen is horrible and you can’t easily mark-up errors when you find them.

Next, start from the last word on the last page and read it backwards, right to left.


For starters it won’t make sense so you’ll concentrate on each word, meaning you’re more likely to spot any typos.

Once you’ve read through the whole document like that, start from the beginning and read it out loud. This will not only highlight any grammatical errors and incorrect word usage, it will also draw your attention to any repetitions and the rhythm of your writing.

Then, go back through and make the changes you marked-up and go through the whole process again.

It might sound long winded, but it will save a lot of embarrassment in the long run.

Over to you  

Do you have a different technique for proofing your work? If so leave a comment below and tell us about it.

How to Write Great Newsletters Every Time

Writing a monthly newsletter is a great way to keep in touch with your customers and add value to your relationship.

You can use them to share information, give tips and offers.

But generating great content on a regular basis can seem like a daunting task. But it doesn’t have to be. All you need is:

  • A great looking template
  • A simple process to write content-rich material that can be repeated again and again

The template you use should reflect your business image. Something in line with your website’s design would be ideal. Just make sure it’s a clean, unfussy design that won’t detract from the information it contains.

But what about the simple process I mentioned? Well, below is an example to show how easy it can be to write your newsletter when you have a system in place.

Newsletter writing process

This 5 step writing process is a great way to kick start the creative process every month. The number of topics you pick will determine the length of your newsletter.

  1. Choose 3 topics for the main body of your newsletter
  2. Choose 3 topics for your side bar
  3. Interview industry experts or research a specific topic
  4. Write and edit your articles
  5. Proofread your newsletter

1. Main topics

These articles will make up the body of your newsletter. You can choose as many topics as you like, but the more you have, the longer your newsletter will be.

They don’t have to be long articles (approximately 300 – 500 words) and can cover things that have happened in the news (or your industry) recently, what’s happening now and what’s coming up.

2. Side bar

The side bar is for quick bits of news so they’re not as in depth as the main topics you’ll write about.

It also gives you the opportunity to add regular pieces such as a book of the month, announcement of forthcoming events, tips, and offers.

3. Interviews and research

Conducting an interview or writing a research-based article can add real meat to your newsletter.

The interview would act like a magazine Q&A session. In it, you could get an expert’s insight into a particular hot topic that your readers are interested in.

The same can work for the research article. Find out what’s important to your readers and write about it. But make sure you include links to the external articles you used for your research so they can read around the subject if they want to.

4. The writing process

This is the part many people dread. But writing well rounded, interesting articles is easy.

Make sure you write in the second person (i.e. ‘you’) to instantly build rapport with your readers. As mentioned above, use hypertext links to direct your reader to more information. This will add value to them and show you really do understand your subject.

Another important feature within your newsletter is your call to action. It could be a link back to your website, an instruction to email for more information or a competition. If you want to make your newsletter marketing a two-way street, you must ask your reader to do something.

Of course, they can only get in touch if you include your contact details. Never hide away from your customers. As with your website copy, make sure your postal, email and phone details are easily available otherwise it looks as though you have something to hide.

The final part of the writing process involves leaving your newsletter alone. Put it to one side for a few days before reviewing the content to make sure it provides the messages you wanted.

5. Proofread

This is the final and most important part of the process.

The last thing you want to do is hit send only to find a glaring typo.

Putting the newsletter aside for a few days before reviewing it will help with the proofreading process. Ideally, you should get someone else to proof it for you. But, if that isn’t possible, giving yourself a few days grace before checking it through should help you spot any mistakes before you send it out.

Over to you

Done well, a regular newsletter can help build and cement relationships with your customers. By adding value and maintaining regular contact, your newsletter can encourage sales.

Do you send out a monthly newsletter?

Have you found it beneficial?

Do you have a process you follow each month like this one? Please leave a comment below and share your newsletter experiences with us.