MAKE NO MISTAKE: 10 TIPS FOR TOP-QUALITY WORK
We’ve all been there. You’re on a tight deadline and you’ve poured your blood, sweat, and tears into your latest project. Just as you start to wonder if you’ll ever see your family and friends again, you realize that it’s nearly complete. You want to deliver top-quality work so you give it a final scan and put the finishing touches on it. It’s finally nearly perfect. Then, you see it… a ghastly typo glaring back at you. You stop and thank your lucky stars that you caught it before you hit send.
We all make mistakes. Even the most seasoned communicator can fall victim to simple errors. The result can be embarrassing and often destructive to your professional credibility. Don’t worry, we have your back. We’ve compiled a list of easy tips to enhance your quality assurance process. Follow them to make sure your work shines and gets you the recognition you deserve.
10 TIPS & TRICKS TO DELIVER TOP-QUALITY WORK
1. Be mindful
Image source: Brief Candle Cartoons
Are there any mistakes that you commonly make? Make a list (and check it twice) while you’re proofing your work. Keep your checklist handy and refer to it often. Every person on your team will have a different list based on their role and responsibilities. Our designer’s list was different than our office administrator’s, and our copywriter’s list, for example.
Proof your work at every stage of the process. Make it your mission to find at least three mistakes at every pass. You’ll need to concentrate to spot them, so set your phone on ‘Do Not Disturb’ and stay away from your email. If it helps, listen to music, or chew gum. Proofing doesn’t require much critical thinking and it can get kind of boring. Get rid of distractions and do things to relieve your mind of pressure while you achieve a state of extreme focus and concentration.
2. Look at it this way, that way, and every which way
According to Daily Writing Tips, people read text differently on screen than on paper. Print a hard copy of your work and read it silently to yourself. Then read it out loud slowly to see if you can hear any mistakes. You can also try reading the whole text backward word by word to find spelling mistakes. Research shows that your brain can fill in the blanks and reading it backward removes context to prevent skimming.
3. Keep it simple, silly.
The wise Dr. Seuss once wrote, “the writer who breeds more words than he needs, is making a chore for the reader who reads.” Follow the K.I.S.S. principle when looking over your work. Ask yourself if you are getting to the point as quickly and simply as possible. Remove any filler words, redundancies, qualifiers, etc. Not sure what to cut? This handy list can help.
4. Hold the homophone
It’s easy to slip up when it comes to homophones and homonyms. Homophones are words that sound the same but have different spellings and meanings like ‘there,’ ‘their,’ and ‘they’re.’ Homonyms are words that have the same spelling but have different meanings like ‘to read a book’ and ‘to book a reservation.’ Use this list to make sure you’re using the right word.
5. Spell check is your frenemy
Spell check can be your best friend, but it can also be your enemy. Make sure you’re using it properly. If you’re in Canada, set your spellcheck to British English instead of the default American English (seeing red squiggly lines all over your work can make you ignore or gloss over other errors). Remember that spellcheck doesn’t pick up the context of your writing so don’t just blindly accept, give it a final review yourself. Autocorrect can also be your frenemy as it catches real mistakes but can also mistakenly correct proper names that have an unusual spelling and acronyms. Be sure to add frequently miscorrected words to your custom dictionary if you use them regularly. At Ramp, we also use Grammarly, a free tool that helps pick up mistakes that other checkers miss.
6. Don’t just stand there, punctuate!
Punctuation errors can be harder to spot but something like a missed comma can actually change the meaning of your text. The internet is full of hilarious punctuation fails like these. Pay attention to missing periods, commas, and watch out for the Oxford comma.
7. Always check your math
Image source: Mashable
Imagine reporting that your campaign successfully increased followers by 200% when the truth is that it only caused a 2% hike. Numerical errors are easy to miss and hard to come back from. Double-check your math and make sure you are using the right numbers. If you receive a number that seems off, ask for clarification.
8. Don’t skimp on a translator
Image source: BlogTO
Consider language when proofing your work. Are you running your campaign in Canada? Make sure you get a professional translator for any French text you’ll be using. Translators are mindful of cultural differences and sensitivities and they can help you avoid offending your audience. If you’re using placeholder text until you get something translated, make sure it is removed before the final product is delivered. Otherwise, you could end up with something like the LCBO ad above. The text “French Bring It Home” is really supposed to have French words that have been translated, oops.
9. Language matters
While this can be harder to spot, it’s SO important in today’s diverse society. Be aware of cultural and social sensitivities that may accidentally offend your audience. Always avoid sexist, racist, and stigmatizing language. Be sure to include people of all abilities. Say someone ‘uses a wheelchair’ instead of saying they are ‘in a wheelchair.’ When speaking about mental health, follow this guide. Use gender-neutral language like ‘police officer’ instead of ‘policeman’ and be sure to respect pronoun choices when speaking about the LGBTQ community. When you’re addressing a crowd, using gender-inclusive terms like “welcome everyone” instead of “welcome ladies and gentleman” to create a more inclusive environment. Don’t say ‘Aboriginal’ or ‘native’ use the more inclusive term ‘Indigenous Peoples in Canada.’ When in doubt, do some research or ask!
10. Don’t proof everything at once
Step away from your work and revisit it with fresh eyes. Look for different mistakes with each pass. Review headers separately as your eyes can easily skip over them. Break up your proofing sessions into discrete tasks. Check for spacing, page numbers, fonts, and alignment. Check proper names to make sure you have them spelled right. If possible get a colleague to do one last proofread before you send it off.
Did you find any mistakes in this article? We hope not. Want to chat about perfecting your next project? Contact us.