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Proofreading 101


We’re going to do something a little bit different here and look at a few pieces of writing and see if we can spot all the errors. Maybe you might even get more than me? Who knows?

So for this activity, take a look at the image first on the right and then see my notes to the left. If viewing on a mobile, I recommend making it landscape so that the text and image are side by side. That’ll save you from constantly scrolling down to see the image.

The majority of these are good examples of what not to do in your writing so I’m hoping you’ll learn a couple of things from this.

There’s a fair few here aren’t they? Rather than go through each individual one, let’s summarise:

  • There are a lot of extra spaces after full stops. You only need one space after a full stop. Ironically enough, there’s one after ‘attention to detail’.
  • You yourself? That sounds a bit weird. Just say You.
  • We have one instance where we have two sentences into one sentence (leading into ‘We did not twist you arm’). Either combine them or use a full stop.
  • Twist your arm, not you arm.
  • ‘Welcome Back’ and ‘Welcome’ do not need quotation marks. They do now because I’m quoting it… You get it.
  • Prestige’s is not a word. The correct word is ‘Prestigious’.
  • Fore filled. The word here is ‘fulfilled’.
  • A few cases where commas are used to separate sentences. Don’t do that!
  • A few unnecessary capitals (Uniform, Venue, Briefing, and Guards).
  • I would have used the word ‘and’ instead of the ampersand (&).
  • License should be Licence as we’re using Australian spelling.
    Recap: Licence and License.
Australian Open typos

  • Most of the issues here are missing commas.
  • We’ve mixed up a part and apart twice.
    Recap: Apart vs A part.
  • Into has been written as in to, twice.
  • You were the person who put me on the map.
    Recap: That vs Who
  • Now, the part underlined in yellow is just messy. Read it a couple times and try and make sense of it. I initially thought the ‘who I believe are now my adopted family’ part should be in brackets or offset by em dashes, but then that would mean that it’s meant to say ‘Sam and Roy, without you and your team have made things happen….’ and that doesn’t make sense either!! So yeah. I’m kinda stumped by this one to be honest. It definitely needs rewording.
Jess Glynne album
This is the inside booklet of a CD I bought. Multi-selling album across the world, yet they couldn’t afford a proofreader! Don’t worry; this will only be seen by everyone who has bought the album!

Remember when we had to vote on same-sex marriage? What a dumb thing that was! Anyway… This came in the mail at around that time. Let’s analyse the message trying to be conveyed:

  • What’s with the random capitals on certain words? Why didn’t you just tYpe lIke thIs aNd be dOnE witH it?
  • We have a few spelling issues: Occurance should be Occurrence. Then you have Husabnds and Neigbhours. All of these are underlined in red squiggles for me, by the way.
  • And don’t forget the American spelling for Organisation.
    Recap: Easy ways you can spot Americanizms.

So yeah. I guess the moral of the story here is, if you want your voice to be heard, proofread it first! And don’t put annoying capital letters wherever you feel like. Oh, lastly, the colour scheme. When I posted this on social media, someone pointed out to me that people who are slightly colour blind may not be able to read the text. Something about the two shades being very close together or something…. But I have to say dark blue on maroon probably wouldn’t have been my first choice to be honest… It doesn’t really stand out does it?

Taco Bill’s marketing emails have always been somewhat ordinary. While many other companies excelled and produced images and content all in the same block, Taco Bill has somewhat stayed in the dark ages and uses an older sorta format that just looks like a standard email with coloured fonts. You can see they’re getting there though: this one is more of a half-half kinda approach. Anyway, let’s look at the atrocities committed in this email:

  • Call in to (phone number) to order yours today. Is that right? Doesn’t sound it. Anyway, if it was just that, it may not be too bad… But let’s get to the juicy stuff…
  • If you want to find the perfect present…. Okay, doing good so far. But wait, we get to the second paragraph. (M)Excellent and thoughtful idea….. Okay, how is that a sentence though? Did you even read this before pressing ‘send’ to your whole customer base?
  • Still on the same paragraph, ‘their gift-wrapped and under the tree’. Their gift-wrapped what?? Oh… Unless they meant ‘their gift wrapped’ without the hyphen. That would make sense. I mean not total sense because of the rest of it…
  • Okay so that last paragraph. Again… It’s not a sentence is it? If they scrapped the ‘because’ and replaced it with a comma, this would work… ‘No matter if it’s for a, b, c, or someone else in your life, Mexican at Taco Bill will always be a good option!’ Yeah, that makes sense. The way it’s written at the moment ties well with paragraph 2 in that neither of them are sentences.
  • Last of all… Mom…. We’re in Australia. We don’t say mom. If you’re originally from America you might. Is this email only for clients from America? Who knows?

In short, this email campaign gets a big, fat F from me.

Taco Bill marketing fail

Last one for today’s post. This is from another major restaurant chain.

  • Lockdown doesn’t need to be two words. It reads strange as two words doesn’t it? Melbourne lock down. No – I don’t want to.
  • Pretty minor but dine in (towards the end) should be dine-in.
  • Have a look at the text on the button. Ceck Here. I initially thought it was meant to say ‘Click Here’, but having a read of the above sentence, I reckon they meant to write ‘check’. Either word would work, really…
typos in email

And that’s all for today. How did you go identifying those errors? I guess the main point I want to drive across is to proofread your work before clicking that ‘send’, button, so to speak! A lot of times, getting someone else to have a quick read is a great idea because they haven’t read it before and may not know the context as well as you do as it’s been in your brain. Fun fact: the very first sentence in this post was wrong the whole time I was drafting this! I had written ‘We’re doing to do something’. Of course, since I’m the one writing this post, in my head it would have read as ‘We’re going to do something’, even though that’s not what it said! I only noticed when I proofread this post before publishing! See? Even more proof that proofreading does work!

Anyway, stay tuned for more posts like this as I’m sure I can rustle up plenty more examples like these!