“I’m a little concerned that either we’re not proofing our work prior to hitting the ‘Send’ button, or as a community we don’t have a very good handle on our grammar, punctuation and spelling. We are usually the ones responsible for proofing the work of others, so I’d like to know: Are we just not worrying about traditional standards these days?” — Kathy
Does it matter, for example, if we misspell words or use abbreviations in e-mail messages? Opinions were mixed. Everyone, however, agreed that when you’re working on written correspondence or an important document, it has to be flawless.
How are top admins keeping documents error-free? Their tricks:
1. Read text backward. “It interrupts the brain’s tendency to see what should be there and forces it to read what is actually there,” says one admin.
2. Say it out loud to catch misspellings and grammar problems. As one reader points out, spell check doesn’t tell you whether the word is grammatically correct.
3. Walk away from your document for 15 to 20 minutes, and then proof it.
4. Have someone read through it for you. A second pair of eyes, especially after you’ve looked at the same document many times, is an effective net for catching mistakes.
5. Print before you proof. Somehow it’s easier than proofing on-screen.
6. Use a ruler so you’ll see only one line of text at a time. Then read once for formatting, once for spelling, once for punctuation, etc.
7. Try software that helps with proofing. One admin suggests White Smoke (www.whitesmoke.com) that checks grammar, suggests synonyms, does a spell check and proofreads.
8. Sign up for a course to spruce up your writing skills. Who knows? Maybe the boss will foot the bill.
Our tip: Become acquainted with a free site called “Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing” (at or http://www.grammar.quickanddirtytips.com/ via iTunes podcast). Helpful and easy to read, it covers all things grammatical.
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