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Writing for Business Audiences

Writing is often seen as an obsolete skill, but for business people, it is crucially important in order to be able to influence, persuade, and convince others with your writing, and it all starts with effective planning.

Proofreading Techniques for Business Communication

Finally, your document is just about complete. You finally written it, reviewed it, compiled it, and probably reviewed it again. Now, with the final edits in place, it’s time to proofread it. Proofreading can seem like a very simple task, however, the attention to detail and the intense focus it requires, simply means that proofreading can be as challenging as it is important. Nonetheless, there are several tactics you can use to make sure this task is completed effectively and properly. This lecture will be highlighting the top strategies to achieve that.

Step Away. Then Focus

When possible, step away from your document before proofreading it. This act is very crucial when you’re the author of the document. The truth is that you’re very close to the written content, which makes it difficult to have a very clear, objective eye on the document. Often, it’s recommended that you take a 24-hour break from your document before proofreading it. This ensures maximum effectiveness. Most times, it’s best practice to proofread your document with a physical print-out. So, print the document out, to allow you to proofread it in multiple places. Also, it makes it easier to read.

Read It Aloud

When proofreading, do it slowly. When you read normally, it allows your brain to fill in gaps and fix errors in your mind and probably skip them on the document. So, reading it aloud and slowly ensures that each word and punctuation mark is verified. Also, it highlights any awkward sentence because it will sound even more awkward when read aloud. There are also online programs that will help you conveniently do this. You can use your computer’s text-to-speech function to have your document read aloud to you. Having your computer read to you will help you to catch any typos that you may have probably skipped over as you know the original intent of your sentences. Also, ensure that your document aligns with your organization’s style standards. Most organizations have these guidelines close at hand while proofreading. These guidelines may range from font choice to preferred spellings, down to margin size, and even more. These details ensure consistency across an organization.

Remove Excess Words

Often business writing is direct and concise. So, excess words like adverbs and adjectives can often be detracted from the message. Be careful not to overstep into editing; review the document for superfluous words that don’t add value to the entire document. Also, accidental excess or repeated words are erroneous and thus, can be missed before proofreading. Also, while proofreading, endeavor to explain or remove jargon. In business writing, specialized terminology or acronyms should be used sparingly, if at all. When you use them, ensure that you explain them to the reader. Often, the first mention of an acronym is spelled out completely with the acronym following in brackets. Then, in the rest of the document, you can simply use the acronym alone. An unfamiliar technical term should certainly be explained in the document before being referenced. Also, terms that are difficult for the audience should be removed and replaced with more accessible wording.

Check Your Sentence Structure

A proper sentence must have a subject, a verb, and should express a complete thought, though, sentence fragments and run-on sentences can sneak into an otherwise great text. So, review each sentence in your document for proper structure and punctuation. Also, while proofreading, check for flow, and sequencing. Check the organization of your document to ensure it has proper flow and sequencing. Finally, check for formatting consistency, order, and numbering of images, tables, and appendices, and the general presentation of your document.

Use Software

When it comes to proofreading, technology is your friend. There are so many handy tools to catch spelling and grammatical errors. Such software includes Grammarly’s online editor and Microsoft’s Spelling and Grammar tool. They will help you catch some syntax errors that your regular spellcheck may miss. Use these tools as a first scan, because they will help you catch detectable errors. However, there are some errors that can only be found by the human eyes. Such errors are word choices and homonyms. If you’re way too close to your document, proofreading it yourself may not be the best idea. In this case, get a truly objective review and opinion. You can do this by hiring an editor to complete the proofreading phase. This will prove to be a valuable investment. Alternatively, ask a friend or a colleague to proofread your document. This will provide a very fresh perspective.

Take a Course

Proofreading is a skill that can be learned, honed, and improved. Like many other writing skills, proofreading can be developed through education. So, you can take a course on proofreading. This will help you master the process. There is a number of online proofreading courses that will help you hone the skills required to effectively proofread in a business environment.

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