Working remotely – as many of us are continuing to do eight months into the COVID pandemic – means that many of our communications will continue to be digital. I’m referring to written exchanges. We all use Zoom, Skype, WebEx and similar platforms for virtual meetings, of course, but those are generally not ongoing over the course of the workday. Discussions with team and coworkers take place via chat during virtual meetings, text messages, direct messages (DMs) via social media, emails … the list is really endless.
Knowing that I primarily edit business copy for a living, people increasingly ask if it really matters if work emails, text / chat / DMs error-free and grammatically correct? My super-short answer: YES!
Your written communications, no matter how brief, are a reflection of work commitment and professionalism. Even if the recipient says nothing about a typo-filled message, such errors do make an impression. If you didn’t care enough to proofread an email, will you truly focus on the details of the task at hand?
Keeping copy error-free is not rocket science. Here are a few straightforward tips to help:
- After writing something … even the briefest of texts … let that copy sit before pressing “send”! Walk away, do another task, for at least five to 10 minutes (or longer if possible) and then check for typos.
- Get someone else to review your messages! A second set of proofreading eyes is always indispensable.
- Spell check! While far from perfect, the spell check function is a good backup to catch basic grammatical and spelling issues.
- Slowly read the copy OUT LOUD. Repeat! Your ears may catch what your eyes missed.
- If you’re feeling really ambitious, try reading the text backwards. A neat little trick that works wonders.
- For more pointers, check out my previous blog on this topic.
And, finally, an essential and often overlooked action that helps globally with regard to business communications of all types:
Reducing eye strain!
Staring too long at that laptops, tablets, smartphone screen is not a new issue. But add in Zooms, Microsoft Teams, Google Meets, etc. to replace in-person meetings during COVID and eye fatigue increases exponentially. Unsurprisingly, eye strain also impedes your ability to accurately and effectively edit and proofread your messages (and all other copy, too).
Remedies include changing the angle of your laptop as well as your posture and distance from the computer, filter screens and apps, eye drops, and even glasses that block blue light!
Here are articles with these and other easy-to-implement solutions that will help both you and your partially or fully remote K-12 child:
- Computers, Digital Devices and Eye Strain (American Association of Ophthalmology)
- Preventing Eye Strain at the Computer (University of Rochester Medical Center)
- 6 Blue Light Filter Applications to Reduce Digital Eye Strain
- I Wore Blue Light Blocking Glasses Every Day for a Week — Here’s What I Learned
Do you have a terrific proofreading or eyestrain-reducing tip? Share it in the comments below!
2 thoughts on “An Editor’s Shelter-In-Place Diary 11-18-20: Proofreading Tips and Eye Strain Busters for Error-Free Biz Communications”
Excellent advice. My last step is usually reading the copy out loud…which usually confuses my husband 😂. He always seems to think I’m talking to him😂. When I see my typos after launching something into the ether, it really bugs me. Usually though it’s because I’ve been looking at the screen too long.
Really timely information for 2020 with so many of us spending a lot more time looking at our screens than we ever have before.
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Isn’t that the truth! I’m forever forgetting to simply walk away from the screen after a half hour or so. That simple act is a refresher that will cut down on typos / eye strain!