Written by Pat Wootton, PromptProofing.com
Find out why we need proofreaders in this week's blog post - and no, not just so I have a job, though that is definitely a plus for me!
Ever wonder why on earth you should pay good money to have your blog posts/web copy proofread? Unfortunately writers (yes, even good writers like you) write fast, especially if a deadline is looming. When you're in a hurry you make typos - we all do! In connection with the business copywriting and blogging side of Prompt Proofing, we have to research many specialized fields and I never cease to be surprised how many excellent writers make typos. These are well-educated literate people who are just in a hurry. Unfortunately, at the end of the day, instead of remembering their well-written analysis of - say the economy, or information technology - I only remember their typing errors.
It's the same as when you spring clean your house because your mother-in-law is coming to visit and she criticizes the one tiny thing you missed in an otherwise immaculate house. Sad but true.
Some examples spotted just this week in business articles, newspaper articles and blogs:
"I feel like I'm being nickelled and dimmed..."
"...those reality contest shows for signing and dancing..."
"...you should always review you bill..."
I repeat, the authors of the above are not illiterate, they are highly knowledgeable on their subject areas and they write very well, but they are (I guess) in a rush!
Apart from obvious typos such as the examples above, another frequently spotted error is incorrect subject/verb agreement and/or pronoun use. This tends to happen for one of two reasons:
1] The writer genuinely is not aware that collective nouns are treated as a single entity, for example:
"A team of experienced brokers are available to give clients the benefit of their expertise."
Even though there may be several people in the team - there is only one team - 'team' is the subject of the sentence, which should read:
"A team of experienced brokers is available to give clients the benefit of its expertise."
(The same rule applies to 'committee', 'army', 'family', etc.)
2] The writer is so caught up with what they are trying to communicate that they lose track of where their sentence started, and what the subject actually was.
"One of many stimulus measures created by the government, in an attempt to allay the fears of the electorate and jumpstart the economy, have been tax breaks for small businesses."
In this example the sentence is complex and it is easy to lose track of where it started or what the subject actually was. The subject here is 'One of many stimulus measures' One, not many. The sentence should read:
"One of many stimulus measures created by the government, in an attempt to allay the fears of the electorate and jumpstart the economy, has been tax breaks for small businesses."
Prompt Proofing offers proofreading services starting from $1.50 per 100 words (only $15 for a 1000 word article).
Check back next Friday for another Prompt Proofing blog post!
Pat Wootton is originally from England and is a former high school English teacher. Having spent many years in the Caribbean, where she raised her family, she now lives in Vancouver, BC. In addition, she has taught English as a Second Language (ESL) for several years after earning a diploma in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) from the University of British Columbia. She now owns and runs Prompt Proofing, a copy editing and writing service that caters to both individuals and businesses.