The Pen is Mightier than the Sword (Edward Bulwer-Lytton: 1839)
Although the play Richelieu by Edward Bulwer-Lytton might not be well known to some, this very famous quote from it rings true for many. The power a writer has to influence and teach others with their written word is massive.
Take a look at the excerpts below:
Reading both excerpts above which one would you put your trust in? They both say exactly the same thing, but example (2) has spelling errors, abbreviations and unforgivable grammatical errors.
I’m not saying there is a perfect way to write as a lot of writing is subjective, however there are some fundamental errors that are made on a daily basis across the internet and not noticed because the author has not had their work proof read.
When trying to build authority or trying to position yourself as a leader of a certain industry or sector it’s imperative that you get the basics right.
If you imagine writing two or three articles on a similar topic in one day, it would be easy to overlook spelling errors, missed punctuation or even duplicated words (trust me, it happens!). At the end of the day, you always want to produce the best for yourself and your client and it really isn’t that difficult to achieve.
I have proof read countless articles, blog posts and documents and would say I am fairly skilled at spotting even the smallest mistake but even I would always ask someone else to proof read any work that I write. This post for example I will re-read myself once I finish it and ask a colleague who is not close to the topic to also read it for me.
The previous paragraph for instance originally had the following errors in it:
“I have proof read countless articles, blog posts and documents and wouldsay I am fairly skilled at spotting even the smallest mistake but even I would always ask someone else to proofread any work that I write. This post for example I will re-read myself once I finish it and ask a colleaque who is not close to the topic to also read it for me.”
It is also interesting to note that Microsoft Word did not highlight any of these as spelling or grammatical errors!
Don’t expect Microsoft Word to do the proofreading for you
Even when it comes to emails, it’s just as important to proofread them before hitting the irreversible send button.
Quite often with emails today, it is the first port of contact between you and a new client, business partnership, blogger, colleague etc. You wouldn’t look very credible if you had silly mistakes in the subject or body of the email.
When I receive an email with errors in it, it makes me think the following:
- I must not be that important to the person sending me this email
- How much does this person care about this email?
- This is spam
Proofreading of a document must be carried out before any piece of writing can be considered finished. A poorly written, careless document can surely not relay the message in a clear and concise way and the whole point of written communication is to do simply that – communicate.
Proofreading is the most important stage in the process of writing. It allows you to:
- Read what you have written
- Check for errors
- Prompt you to add information that you may have forgotten
- Check the flow of the piece
- Remove areas of repetition or irrelevant bits of information
- Check formatting
- Set your mind at rest that it is the best version of what you can write