Professional copywriters and copyeditors are trained to have eagle eyes for every punctuation mark and grammar nuance.
Though we’re all human, and even the best writers and editors may overlook a rogue comma or misspelling here and there, it’s much more uncommon than someone in another profession. It’s vital for non-writers to have someone edit their important work before it’s shared with the world. A stray typo or ill-written copy can wreck credibility, especially if it’s in an important PowerPoint presentation or displayed prominently on your website or via email blast to all of your customers. Here’s why your business needs a copyeditor now, and some common mistakes to watch out for:
Why you should consider an editor…
Imagine you are reading through an RFP from a potential client that puts thousands or even millions of dollars on the line. As you flip through the pages, you see a sleek design, but misspelled words, missing apostrophes and some grammar doozies. Can you really take this individual or company seriously? Is this really a company you feel comfortable doing business with? While an occasional typo may not be a deal-breaker for some businesses, they can make a bad impression and put a damper on your professional authority.
To avoid potential embarrassment or lost opportunities, it’s wise to have someone proofread your work before it’s disseminated, whether it’s a blog post or an important memo. If you have an employee who’s a grammar whiz, ask if they can be your go-to person. If you don’t, it’s smart to hire a contract proofreader or editor to review your materials to ensure they’re perfect.
There’s not just one type of editing.
When hiring an editor, it helps to know that there are different types of editing. Proofreading generally just entails correcting spelling, grammar and punctuation mistakes. It’s usually a final glance before the content is published. Copyediting is more “intense” editing, with added help on formatting and consistency, plus suggestions for better syntax. Line editing is a more heavy form of editing that addresses tone, word choice, restructuring and possibly some rewriting. Note that the more thorough editing you want, the more it costs since heavier editing takes more time. Some editors charge by the word or page, while others offer a flat project rate or hourly rate.
Common mistakes to avoid…
Even if you hire an editor, it’s impossible to have them read every email and memo you send. To keep your copy in tip-top shape, it’s smart to become familiar with some of the most common writing mistakes adults make. It takes a little time to relearn these basics, but it’s totally worth the effort!
Homonyms are two words that sound the same, but are spelled differently and have different meanings. Here are a few below that are commonly confused by adults. Study up to make sure you understand the difference and use the correct one:
The period and the comma always go inside of quotation marks. Always. Exclamation points or questions should go inside if part of the quote, but can go outside if not part of the quote.
An apostrophe indicates either missing words in a conjunction (can’t) or a possession (John’s dog). Words that are already plural do not need apostrophes, including last names. For example, it should be The Smiths, not The Smith’s.
Resources to reduce mistakes
If you don’t have time or resources to hire an editor, one blog on grammar that we love is Grammar Girl, where you will find easy explanations of common mistakes and frequent points of confusion. If you prefer a handy book you can reference when you have questions, you can’t go wrong with The Elements of Style by Strunk and White, a classic beloved by grammarians everywhere.
Need a top-notch editor to review your content? Message Sprout can whip your content into shape fast!