I've worked with several clients who question whether it's worth paying for a professional proofreader. I've also worked with clients who insist on proofreading their own work. Here's why it's not a great idea to skip the professional proofreading step.
There has been substantial research on how the brain processes written text. (While I was getting my linguistics degree, I spent more than my fair share of time geeking out on this category of neuroscience research.) It turns out that when you re-read something you wrote, your brain reads what it thinks should be on the page, rather than what actually appears on the page. Your brain will automatically fill in missing words, auto-correct spelling mistakes, and skip over doubled-up words. That's why it's so difficult to detect your own errors.
No matter how smart you are, and no matter how well you know your grammar rules, you cannot be an effective proofreader of your own work. So now that we've gotten that out of the way, let's move to another frequent line of questioning from clients: Does it really matter if I have a typo here and there? The short answer is, definitely. Here are three reasons why a proofreader is a great financial investment for companies and job-seekers.
1. Errors Impact Your Credibility
Researchers have looked at how people respond to grammatical errors in company documents (social media posts, white papers, websites, presentations, etc.). According to a Global Lingo survey, 59% of respondents said they turn away from a company if they notice errors in their materials. It makes sense. Grammatical errors and poor writing send any number of negative signals to your reader: carelessness, poor education, lack of professionalism.
There is also another factor at play that doesn't get enough attention. Our world is now inundated with all kinds of scams, and many of them involve error-laden documents: poorly written emails, strangely formatted mailers, and suspicious pop-up windows. However, sometimes the only difference between legitimate communication and a forgery is one small spelling mistake or one strangely worded sentence. Therefore, we are taught to be highly suspicious of any error, no matter how small. We carry that lesson with us no matter what we're reading. So if your documents contain errors, they are inadvertently screaming: Illegitimate! Scam! Red flag!
2. Tiny Mistakes Can Have Costly Consequences
In case you missed this gem of a story, a judge recently ruled that workers at Oakhurst Dairy in Maine were entitled to more than $10 million in overtime wages, all because of a missing comma in the workers' contract. That's right, a single comma ended up costing the company millions. It's an extreme example, but it's a reminder that grammar matters. It is especially important to have a proofreader review technical documents that can impact your bottom-line.
3. Grammar Can Impact Your Career Trajectory
Grammar doesn't just matter at the corporate level. It also matters when it comes to your personal documents, specifically your résumé. A study recently published in the Harvard Business Review analyzed the LinkedIn profiles of several professionals to determine the impact of grammar mistakes. The company conducting the study, Grammarly, found that professionals with fewer grammar errors moved into higher-level positions in their companies, were promoted more often, and had more job opportunities. Long story short, grammar mistakes can cost you in the workplace.
Thanks to the internet, potential employers now have access to far more than your paper résumé. So it's important to carefully check all your public content: your Twitter feed, website, public Facebook posts, LinkedIn profile, etc. Chances are good that somewhere in there, you have a mistake or two. A proofreader can help you find those mistakes. A proofreader can also make sure your content is consistent from platform to platform. If you don't have consistent job titles, job descriptions, and dates of employment across the board, it may raise some eyebrows.
Given all of this, it's hard to believe anyone decides not to use a proofreader—especially because proofreading is one of the cheapest editorial services. So the next time you're getting ready to release something to the public, send it to a proofreader first. You'll be glad you did.
Need a proofreader? Get in touch with All-American Editorial Services to get a quote.