It’s difficult to proofread your own writing. You’re familiar with the words and you can easily slide right over small mistakes. But don’t let difficulty stop you!
I just received the monthly newsletter from my professional association. The front page article included two run-on sentences, a missing word, a missing apostrophe and a few other errors. But the best one, repeated twice, was “peak their interest.” No spellcheck will flag this, but the word should be “pique.”
I debated pointing out the errors to the writer. Perhaps I shouldn’t, because other people would have seen and pointed out the errors. Perhaps I should, because maybe we all assumed the same thing.
In the end, I sent him what I hoped was a gentle note, coming from the same spirit of telling people that they have spinach or lipstick on their teeth. If everyone assumed you knew, you’d go home at the end of the day and wonder why no one bothered to tell you.
In a situation where your words are going to be read by many people, and in this case, many people with an interest in words, do take the time to proofread carefully. Better yet, show your article to someone else and ask for feedback.
Mountain peak (not pique) by David Mark and Pixabay.
Oh, yes, what a dilemma when you spot errors in other people’s work! You don’t want to come across as an anal retentive perfectionist, but really, how can you let things slide when they’re supposed to look professional? I think it’s better to point out errors as gently as you can, when they might make the person or organization look bad. In casual or personal correspondence, I let things slide, but when the piece has a wide readership, I think it’s best to give the correction.
The writer later wrote back to thank me for my comments. I wonder how many other anal retentive perfectionists (let’s call them ARPs) he heard from?