Dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s

By Angela Bensemann, Director Halo Communications

Tedious isn’t it.  When you’ve worked on a document for so long that you just want to see the back of it.

We’ve all done it though, the moment you get it back from the printer’s you see the glaring typo that literally leaps off the page and hits you in the head.

One that always sticks in my mind was an Annual Report my manager proofed back in the 90s which sported the word ‘abadable’ instead of ‘affordable’ in the final printed version.

I’ve learnt the hard way that you can’t snooze on the home stretch of a document.  This is exactly the time that you need to be getting it looked at with fresh, preferably, detail seeking eyes.

So, tedious as it may be, it’s critical to have a good process in place so that your document reflects the professionalism you need.

The right way of doing this includes two sets of proofreading – not to be confused with editing which is a totally different process.

In an ideal world you will have the document written or write it yourself.  This should then be peer reviewed and edited to make sure the document flows how you want it, covers what it needs to, has a consistent tone and style and is pretty much final.

After this the first proofread should take place on the word version of the document.  This is a detailed look to make sure everything is spelt right – company names are correct, links to web addresses etc are right, macrons have been added to Māori words etc.

This process takes time as often the proofreader will want to go through the document at least two or three times. It’s really important that the proofreader is not the person who wrote the document.  That person will see what they want to see as they’ve become overly familiar with it.

Next the document gets sent off to the designer (this could be online or hardcopy design here – the principles still apply).

When the document comes back it’s important to have another final proofread.  That’s because things can change during the layout and design process.  Files can be corrupted, bits of sentences can drop off, the wrong things can get bolded, pull quotes can be put in the wrong place. The list goes on.

Once final changes have been made and checked you can sign off the document with confidence and start on the next one.