I recently signed up for a newsletter and downloaded the ‘free’ eBook that was promised to me. I started reading and proofreading the eBook (habit) and found a couple of errors within it. Mistakes happen from time-to-time; however, if they happen more than once, it may be time to pay closer attention to who’s proofreading your newsletters, brochures, web content, policies and procedures manuals, blog posts, articles and eBooks. Content matters — but error-free content matters more.
Five Surface Errors that Make You Look Unprofessional
1. Misspelled words. Let’s face it; spell check doesn’t catch all errors. Remember, some words sound the same (homonyms) but aren’t spelled the same. Examples are: there, their and they’re; pair and pear; know and no; its and it’s; you’re and your; hear and here; to, too and two; and many others. Proofreading your eBook or newsletter is the best way to catch errors. Spell check can only do so much.
2. Improper use of quotation marks. A period and or comma belong inside not outside of quotation marks. A semicolon does not.
3. Off-the-wall paragraph spacing. It’s important to have enough white space but too many spaces between paragraphs makes an eBook or other written material out-of-balance.
4. Too many spaces after a period. Most people were taught to use two spaces after a period; however, it’s best to use one space. You may be shocked to learn that some elementary and high school students across the U.S. are still being taught to use two spaces after a period. Only one space is needed.
5. Too many em dashes and exclamation points. Use em dashes and exclamation points sparingly; I even have to remind myself of this one. Too many exclamation points can be seen as obnoxious. Too many em dashes can overwhelm readers.
Surface errors happen; even Number One Best-Selling Authors aren’t immune to the occasional misspelled word. However, it’s important to present a polished end product. If your newsletter is filled with errors, your clients and customers may email you about it. Whether or not you pay attention to their complaints is up to you. Surface errors could deter clients/customers from utilizing your services or purchasing your products. Like it or not, presentation matters. Present a clean, error-free eBook, brochure, newsletter, direct mail card, white paper, etc. and you’ll make a good lasting impression.