“Why yes, sir, I am,” I replied, “How can I help you?”
“I DON’T NEED YOUR HELP!” he screamed, his face inches from my own, “WHAT GOOD HAS PROOFREADING EVER DONE NO-ONE?”
Sighing wearily at the double negative, I took the shouting man aside and bought him a cup of coffee. I then explained the following points:
1. Proofreading Can Boost Your Grades
Many colleges award additional marks for good spelling and grammar (sometimes up to 10% of your overall grade). This can make a big difference over the academic year.
More importantly, having your work proofread will make it easier to read, which can make your arguments clearer and more convincing.
2. Automatic Spellcheckers are Unreliable
The automatic spellchecker on your word processor is useful for catching basic errors, but it’s limited when it comes to proper nouns, technical terms, acronyms, homonyms and sentence structure (all things with which a proofreader can help you).
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3. The Tyranny of Deadlines
Whether you’re at college or in the office, many of us have heavy workloads and deadlines to meet. Having a professional check your work will save you valuable time and effort, making sure that you never miss another deadline.
4. Word Limits
Part of proofreading is making sure your written work is concise and free from repetition. This is very helpful if you struggle to stay within the word limit on your assignments!
5. Fresh, Expert Eyes
Even the best writers struggle to proofread their own work, no matter their level of linguistic expertise. A professional proofreader, on the other hand, comes to your writing fresh, which makes it easier to spot small errors that might otherwise get missed.
6. Mistakes in Promotional Material are Bad for Business
Research has shown that poorly written promotional material can attract bad press and incur significant costs. For example, the publisher Penguin had to recall and destroy 7,000 copies of a cookbook that included a recipe demanding “salt and freshly ground black people” when it should have said “salt and freshly ground black pepper.” Oops. That’s $20,000 dollars that could have been saved with good proofreading.
Once we had finished our coffee, the previously furious man seemed much calmer. “Oh my,” he said, no longer expectorating, “I had no idea! My sincere apologies! From now on, I will always have my written work checked by a professional!”
And with that he left, leaving me sat alone in the coffee shop, despairing over a misplaced apostrophe in the menu.