The importance of proofreading

The importance of proofreading

Never underestimate the importance of proofreading. Mistakes in grammar, spelling or punctuation will reflect negatively on the writer or  organisation.

Proofreading is quality control – an essential part of day-to-day business.

There are many levels of proofreading. If you work for a large, global company, chances are your communication team will have a comprehensive proofreading checklist.

If you are a solo writer or you are part of a smaller communications team, it would be a really good idea to put one together.

I will also share a secret with you right here! Even professional writers need to proofread their work (generally after it has been edited and looked at by someone else). When you are in the creative flow your main concern is just to get ideas written down before you forget them. You are not so concerned with grammar at this stage and stray typos can easily creep in. And that’s OK! As long as you proofread at the end.  If you are a professional writer, chances are you will know your weaknesses and ‘ticks’ so you will know to look out for these in the proofing process. Truth be told, our eyes get used to the way we write and they trick us.

A fresh set of eyes is a must for any writing that is going out into the world whether you are a writer submitting your manuscript to an Agent or Publisher – or if you are a copywriter creating launch materials for the next big thing.

Ideally, written material should be proofread by at least two people other than the writer or the editor. To get you started, I have provided a summarised list that can be applied to all written materials.


  • Read through your written project at least once. Check logic and sequence.
  • Check language. Are the following correct?
    –  use of active voice (not passive)
    –  clarity and conciseness
    –  sentence and paragraph length
    –  gender neutral language.
  • Check for unusually long sentences and
    paragraphs. As a rough guide an average sentence length of 17 words and maximum sentence length of 30 words is  recommended for readability.
  • Check for spelling and typographical errors. Don’t rely on spell check or grammar check. Always double check the suggestions.
  • Check country-specific spelling. The US, Australia and the UK  have slightly different spellings for certain words. It can be quite ‘alienating’ to present US spelling to a UK audience so make sure you are on top of this if the audience is potentially a consideration.
  • Check grammar and punctuation.
  • Explain abbreviations and acronyms used for the first time, and be consistent in their usage.


Check format and appearance. Are the following correct and consistent?

  • Information duplicated or missing
  • Number usage and units – Imperial (US) and Metric (ROW). Are they used correctly?
  • Fonts and fonts sizes
  • Line spacing
  • Headings and subheadings – check order and format
  • Widows (isolated word at the top of the page) and orphans (abandoned word at bottom of page)
  • Pagination and page breaks – placement and format of page numbers, changes in justification and margins
  • Page numbering – check all pages (from cover to index) for correctness, consistency, sequence and format. However, ebooks don’t require page numbers.
  • Lists (numbered and bulleted) – check numbering, format, punctuation and spacing.

If you are self-publishing I urge you not to skip this step. It is the difference between a quality product that will bolster your credibility as professional – or it will tarnish you as a hopeful amateur who has not taken quality control or the customer experience seriously. This is especially true if you are expecting the customer to pay for your writing or a product where your writing is featured).

If you need a Proofreader please do reach out. If I am already booked out, I will provide you with the contact details of trusted proofreaders I’ve worked with in the past.

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