Even Mitt Romney needs a Proofreader

Typos are oh-so-easy to make—and so much harder to catch. Case in point: a gaff in a recent Mitt Romney campaign app went viral when it urged people to stand with Mitt for “A Better Amercia.” OUCH.

NBC Nightly News had a good one recently, too: “The Propsal.” You’d think an organization of that caliber would catch that. Alas, no. Why?

News outlets are striving to survive in an increasingly paperless world. So they’re sending copyeditors out their back door while ushering web designers in their front door. (Expect to see more typos. Not that web designers can’t read, but copyediting isn’t their thing—or their job description.)

The New York Times recently had a tongue-clucking headline, too: “Black, White, and Moron [Mormon] all Over.”

So many words in the English language differ by only one letter or can get screwed up by moving one letter. For example:

  • Steakholders (must need really big forks)
  • Frothcoming (watch for overfilled beer mugs)
  • Monkey/money (monkey laundering?)
  • Contact/contract (contact negotiations–to just hold hands?)
  • Pool/poll
  • Man/mean
  • Brain/bran
  • Dear/dead
  • Native/naïve

You get the picture.

Most people would admit (if pressed) that no one can read something he or she wrote as well as someone else can. But maybe there’s no one around to copyedit or proofread for you—and you have a big presentation, report, or grant application on the line. What do you do?

Learn how to do it yourself.

It’s not rocket science, but it takes some practice and discipline. Most people don’t do it because they don’t know how or where to start. I take the guesswork out of that in my book, Proofread Like a Pro. That may sound like a shameless plug for my book. But, in all my years of writing (and in preparing to write my book), I’ve never seen anyone else actually set forth a SYSTEM for how to do it.

Don’t spend time writing a report, memo, or manuscript and simply hope that it’s OK. No one gets it perfect the first time around. And statistics show that communications riddled with typos and other errors lose credibility. So do the smart thing and work the system: my system—called 3/9/3—in my book.

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