Proofread or Perish

Your 2nd grade teacher was right: proofreading your stuff is an absolute must.  Othawise, your risk having you’re busness appear solppy an unresponsible, or worse, even ignorent.

Which stuff am I talking about?  Every single thing you publish.  Your product literature, your ads, your catalogs, your website, even your material safety data sheet (MSDS).

I was recently reading a web page about a coloring product.  The manufacturer was boasting that the product “is available in a full pallet of pigments.”  Which is good, I suppose, if you’re a volume user who buys pigments by the pallet.

But if you’re an artist who likes many color choices, you might prefer a full palette of pigments.

I thought to myself, "the code monkey who put together this website isn’t very literate."  Then I pulled up the technical data sheet for the product, and found the same language there.  It wasn’t that feckless web designer after all, it was the manufacturer!

Another technical data sheet I recently downloaded was simply incomplete.  Two sections were blank except for notes in red, notes asking if this info should be a copied from the sheet for a related product.  Nobody had checked the file that went online.

To be fair, the file was dated several years ago and nobody had ever said a word about it, so we might conclude it wasn’t getting read very much anyway.  Maybe this slip-up hadn’t impacted their reputation heavily.  But it easily could have.

I see typos and grammatical mistakes every day on manufacturer’s websites and in their product literature.  It makes a bad impression on me, but it could have a more serious impact on architectural outreach.  Specifiers depend on the accuracy of product information when they select products for a project.   Do you really want to shake their confidence in your information?

Now that you’ve seen the light and are determined to proofread everything, a hint: it is very difficult for the writer of a piece to proofread it well.  She knows what it should say, which makes it easy for her to miss what is actually printed.  Somebody else should proof it.  Ideally, the writer should read it aloud to somebody else who follows on a printed copy and proofs it.