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Practical Proofreading

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Presentation on proofreading, including tips and common errors

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2. HOW WE GOT HERE Texting, casual language Change in teaching emphasis Fewer proofreaders In a rush Reliance on spell check Decline of print journalism 3. WHY IT MATTERS Makes you look unprofessional Message wont be taken seriously Editors looking for reasons to dismiss your communication Can change meaning of your sentences Fewer filters 4. OBJECTIVES Communicate effectively Ensure comprehension Eliminate confusion Provide accurate information Be consistent 5. THE BOTTOM LINE Spelling and grammar mistakes costing e-commerce sites millions of dollars Six seconds to capture attention on website Revenue doubled per visitor once error corrected Comma costs company $2.6 million shall continue in force for a period of five years from the date it is made, and thereafter for successive five year terms, unless and until terminated by one year prior notice in writing by either party. 6. FOUR QUESTIONS When do you need it? Who is the audience? Which style guide? What are the exceptions? The right way The boss way The clients way 7. FOUR PASSES Format Comprehension Grammar and punctuation Spelling 8. BEST PRACTICES Proofread all drafts, all stages Let someone else proof Overnight test Proofread final design/proof 9. BEST PRACTICES Edit from hard copy Reading from paper versus screens: a critical review of the empirical literature by Andrew Dillon, 1992 experiments by Creed et al (1987) and Wilkinson and Robinshaw (1987) report significantly poorer accuracy for such proofreading tasks on screens. 10. BEST PRACTICES Use straight edge as visual guide One line at a time Solid straight edge Use different color pen to mark Make placeholder marks in margins 11. WHAT TO DOUBLE-CHECK Names (people, companies) Titles Places Dates (time, day, month, year) Figures Websites, email addresses 12. SPELL CHECK WONT CATCH Homonyms Incorrectly divided words Incorrect pronouns Missing words Wrong words Incorrect verb tenses Repetition of phrases/sentences 13. SERIAL COMMA Strict grammarians add last comma Red, white, and blue AP Style Guide usually omits Red, white and blue Add final comma for long lists of complex items Add final comma if listed items include and 14. COLON (:) Most common use is to introduce lists his favorite colors: red, white and blue. Not favorite colors such as: red, white and blue. Can also be used for emphasis He only had one hobby: eating. 15. SEMICOLON (;) Greater separation than a comma but less than a period Separate long items in a series or when items contain multiple segments separated by commas Link independent clauses (e.g., The package was due last week; it arrived today.) 16. HYPHEN (-) VS. DASH () Hyphens join words Avoid ambiguity Form a single idea from two or more words Dashes Abrupt change (e.g., I will stay if it rains. Series within a phrase (e.g., His favorite colors red, white and blue were on display. Attribution (e.g. Nietzsche is dead. God) 17. ELLIPSIS () Denotes deletion of one or more words in condensing text Leave blank space on both sides If at end of a sentence, add a period then went to bed . 18. CAPITALIZATION AP Style Directly before name is title, capitalize After name is position, dont capitalize Senator Richard Burr Richard Burr, senator from North Carolina 19. POSSESSIVES AP Style Singular common noun, add apostrophe and letter s Noun ends in s, add apostrophe only (e.g., boss, waitress) Same rules apply for proper nouns (e.g., Toms, Jones) Plural noun ending in s, add apostrophe Plural noun not ending in s, add apostrophe and s 20. POSSESSIVES Possession applies to two singular nouns, apply apostrophe and s to second noun Tom and Janes car Two distinct nouns, apply appropriate possessive for each noun Toms red car and Janes blue car 21. POSSESSIVES Chicago Manual of Style No exceptions for singular nouns, always add apostrophe and s (e.g., bosss, waitresss) All plural nouns treated the same as AP Style Proper names ending in s, x or z, add es and apostrophe (the Thomases house) 22. PLURALS AND APOSTROPHES Lowercase letters (ps and qs) Not always needed for uppercase (four As and two Bs) but doesnt hurt Not needed for numerals (4s, 8s) Not needed for years (the 1990s) but okay in truncating (the 90s) 23. REPEAT OFFENDERS Companies are an it, not a they Whom vs. that that introduces restrictive clause, essential (e.g., He dreamed of cars that could fly.) which introduces non-restrictive, parenthetical clauses (e.g., He dreamed of cars, which is not unheard of.) 24. REPEAT OFFENDERS Postal abbreviations vs. state abbreviations (MI vs. Mich.) over vs. more than No end quotation marks Change in tenses, said and says in same document Fewer vs. less 25. COMPOUND MODIFIERS Hyphenate compound modifiers directly preceding a noun (e.g., 80-proof liquor) Dont hyphenate after the noun (e.g., the liquor was 80 proof) Some guides and publications moving away from hyphens, use only if omission causes confusion 26. COMPOUND MODIFIERS General guidelines Dont always hyphenate if modifier is two nouns (e.g., health care system, income tax cut) Adjective-noun modifiers (e.g., two-car garage, middle-class lifestyle) Noun-participle combinations (e.g., role- playing games, love-starved cat) When three or more words used to modify (40-foot-long pole, baseball-cap-wearing fans) 27. COMPOUND MODIFIERS General Guidelines Hyphenate to avoid confusion (high-school- aged children vs. high school-aged children) Dont hyphenate when adverb ends in ly (e.g., early rising bird) Compounds with most and least usually dont take a hyphen (e.g., most appreciated teacher) Compounds with best and worst tend to take a hyphen (e.g., best-loved stories) 28. POP QUIZ (DAILY WRITING TIPS) We offer an industry leading cloud based property management solution. We offer an industry-leading, cloud-based property management solution. We offer an industry-leading, cloud-based property-management solution. 29. POP QUIZ They criticized the arbitrary measures taken so far on the air-travel security front. They criticized the arbitrary measures taken so far on the air-travel-security front. 30. POP QUIZ Thats enough to power about 90 percent of a 1,500-square foot home. Thats enough to power about 90 percent of a 1,500-square-foot home. 31. POP QUIZ They are turning a blind eye to what their low and middle ranking members do on the streets. They are turning a blind eye to what their low- and middle-ranking members do on the streets. Not: They are turning a blind eye to what their low-and-middle-ranking members do on the streets. 32. WHEN IN DOUBT Rephrase or rewrite Show it to other people Give it the overnight test Look for precedents Edit for clarity, brevity and consistency 33. RECOMMENDATION Read a lot. Read with a critical eye. Make note of errors you see repeatedly. Read because language keeps changing. 34. RESOURCES Associated Press Style Guide Strunk and Whites The Elements of Style Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss Common Errors in English Usage by Paul Brian 35. RESOURCES rs.html 36. Thank you. Any questions? [email protected]