Shelagh Mudd, a qualified proofreader and director of J-GMP Consultancy (UK) Ltd looks at why proofreading of policies and procedures is essential.
A single mistake in an otherwise flawless document can give the impression that the writer is careless, incompetent, ignorant, or just plain lazy – and by extension, so is the company that employs them. That is not the impression you want to create.
Do your documents communicate your message effectively? Do they really say what you really intended to say?
Or could they be misinterpreted? The problem is, you know what you want to say – so it’s sometimes hard to notice that you haven’t actually said it. My favourite example (from instructions that came with safety equipment, and were intended to encourage users to check for signs of wear and tear…)
‘Harnesses must not be worn.’
First impressions count. You may have discovered the meaning of life itself, but if there are typos, spelling mistakes, grammatical errors or punctuation issues, your message is very unlikely to get through. Sloppy work does not inspire confidence.
But, I hear you cry, I use a spell checker!! Yes, eye no ewe do… But spell checkers don’t pick up everything – they don’t recognise many proper nouns, they don’t recognise homophones, and a lot of technical vocabulary is not included in their dictionaries. They don’t even notice if you’ve used the wrong worm entirely. There really is no substitute for a well-trained human brain.
A professional proofreader has an eye for detail – they can spot a double space or a misplaced apostrophe at 300 paces. They will search and destroy inconsistencies in content and layout.
When you want to look your best, you invest in a haircut, you dress well, and you get a good night’s sleep. But you still have a look in the mirror before you go out, just to be sure. Proofreading is exactly like that. You’ve written your document, you’ve re-written it, you’ve re-re-written it – but then it needs proofreading before final sign-off, just to be sure.
Here at J-GMP Consultancy (UK) Ltd we’ve been using the services of a qualified proofreader for years. At £20 an hour it’s cheaper than getting it wrong. Contact Shelagh Mudd for more details.