A New Edition of Amy Mac's Wonderful World of Writing Well!

alec baldwinIMG_0744Earlier this week I conducted  a seminar on writing for professionals whose main work focus is NOT writing. Because as we all know, excellent communication skills are imperative in business and in life. These folks are geniuses at their core competency, and didn't need a huge, long, boring writing class ... they just needed to sharpen their writing skills with a few easy strategies. **Interested in doing this seminar at your office? Send me a note!**

One topic we covered was the importance of proofreading your writing. Why? A well-written piece free of typos gains the trust and respect of your audience by showing you are careful with the details, not just the big picture. On the other side of the coin, any communication with a typo or spelling/grammatical error makes the audience wonder “what else are they missing?”

Now, before I get a stack of emails saying "I found the following typos on your blog, and now I can't even trust you long enough to delete you from my bookmarks," let me throw out a caveat: though I consider myself a better-than-average proofreader, I can assure you lots of typos and/or grammatical missteps have squeaked through onto this blog. And will continue to do so. Mostly because in an attempt to get lots of pieces of writing out the door each week, I have blinded myself proofing other pieces and can no longer see the computer screen when it comes time to proof the blog. Also, I may not always follow my rules for proofreading:

Printing is preferable when it comes to proofreading -- (love me some alliteration) A forest of trees is weeping somewhere right now, but if you want to be sure you're catching all the typos, you MUST print out a copy of your document. It's too hard to catch mistakes on a computer screen. Also, you'll need a hard copy for rule #2.

Do a line-by-line read with a ruler. You heard me. Find yourself a straight-edge something, and put it directly under the line you are reading. You'll be surprised by what you catch when you are forced to focus on just a few words at a time.

Read backwards. On that line-by-line, start at the bottom of the document. It keeps your brain from skipping over parts you've written and read recently.

On that note, set your piece aside for at least a half-hour before you do a final proof. I tell my kids a little distance from something upsetting gives you perspective. This bon-mot is effective for writing, too. 

Find a friend. Have someone with a working knowledge of punctuation, grammar and spelling read behind you. A fresh set of eyes does wonders. 

Read aloud. Yeah, friends and neighbors will think you're nuts, but you're totally good with that because your writing is better than theirs. Why? Because reading aloud catches all kinds of grammar and cadence issues. I encourage you to occasionally sing aloud, as this encourages your neighbors to pick up their dog poop out of your yard rather than tangle with the crazy lady who sing-proofs her letter to the president of the PTA.

Now you're a proofreading wizard, a genius writer, and your neighbors no longer allow Spot to utilize your lawn as a fertilizing experiment. 

All in one blog post. Aren't we feeling accomplished?

PS -- Can you find the typos from The Today Show and the NBC Atlanta affiliate?


Anonymous said...

So helpful. Thank you. Yours truely has been rushed enough to send out typos in birthday evites along with the incorrect time. (I did manage to get the correct date on the evite though) Impressive- I know. Have a great summer!

Amy Mac said...

E--hilarious! Miss seeing you now that C & D are "too cool" for us to be at the school :-)