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Proof Readfing

Writing articles for free publicity, freelance writing, writing books, copywriting, editing and proofreading. If you write, or would like to, join us here in the Writer's Corner.

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Proof Readfing

Postby Ellen » Sun Feb 03, 2008 8:12 pm

Yes, the "f" was intentional :wink: If you're wondering what "f" I'm talking about, it's the "f" in the word "reading," located in my subject line.

I'm posting this because I'm curious about the need (or desire,) for proof-readers online? I run across all kinds of errors when I read web copy, and occasionally I'm even tempted to write to the owner to let them know about the errors I found. I say, "I'm tempted." I never have actually written anyone before, for a couple of reasons.

#1. They didn't ask me to. And because they didn't, I might end up wasting my time (I hate doing that,) or they might even be offended. (None of my business, right?)

#2. In all honesty, it's no skin off my back if their copy has errors. For all I know, they put them right where they are intentionally, just as I did with my "f.' (I doubt it - but anything is possible.)

My point, is whether they want to know about them or not, the errors are there. And it's my opinion they probably aren't aware of them in the first place, otherwise they'd have corrected them before I found them.

I'm not only talking about minor spelling errors or even punctuation. Lord knows I've made many of those errors myself. Though I do try to at least take the time to check my spelling when I believe it's crucial to do so. And the truth, is I don't really mind a spelling error or two when I read someone else's copy anyway. Generally the error is so minor I just figure it was missed. No biggy. (It's usually pretty obvious they at least tried to make sure their copy was error free.)

On the other hand, if there are lots of spelling errors, that will unquestionably kill any chance of me clicking further into a website. In those cases (way too many in my opinion,) I can't help but think one of two things. 1.) the person who wrote the copy isn't fluent in English, which always concerns me. AND/Or -- 2.) They didn't care enough about their e-business offering enough to take the time to ensure their copy was error free. (Why should I or anyone else care about their offering if they don't?)

Concerning those who aren't fluent in English, if they wish to market to English speaking people, I would consider it a cost of doing business for them to do whatever is necessary to ensure their copy is written for English speaking people to understand.

Broken English in the written word, is, in my opinion, much, MUCH worse than broken English while speaking. At least when you're listening to someone who speaks in broken English, in the majority of situations (for example; over the phone,) you have an immediate opportunity to ask for clarification. In written words, particularly on the web, there's little chance anyone is going to take the time to contact you asking for clarification. Personally, I simply move on.

Since I'm a newer member here at SSWT, I've been reading posts in an attempt to not only learn what I can through others here but also to try to get to know some of the members, as I know there are some brilliant minds behind many of the posts I'm reading. Therefore, I've been visiting alot of member websites, and I have to tell you, I've come across a bunch of really fantastic resources!

At the same time, though, I've also found a number of member websites that have easily correctable errors, and for the life of me, I can't figure out why they haven't corrected them?

Example:

One members site (it's actually for those interested in purchasing copy writing services,) has an error that I believe could lose the owner sales. I was completely turned off by the error myself. Not only because the error existed -- but more importantly, because the owner is promoting a service I would expect to be error free.

The error in this case has to do with a "limited time offer." The problem, is the offer ended over a month ago but the copy hasn't been updated to reflect that change.

At this stage the copy is essentially sending the following message to everyone who reads it: "You missed out on this great opportunity to get my extra special offer at a discounted price BUT hey, go ahead and buy it now for the full price!"

Would you buy at the full price now, knowing the offer being promoted ended a month ago, yet now you'll have to pay full price? I know I wouldn't!

Your thoughts?
Last edited by Ellen on Mon Feb 04, 2008 6:53 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby GaryHarvey » Mon Feb 04, 2008 4:46 am

Hello again Ellen,

I used to offer a proof reading service, but then
found that due to my near-obsession with "getting
it right" (yes, perfectionism) I was taking way too
long for the jobs to be economical.

However the kind of errors you allude to jump
off the page at me too.

There's one I noticed again recently (and if you
scroll down just one post you will see it). It is
the word "alot". Actually the writer means "a lot".
It's a common enough error.

I think the only way for us to retain our sanity
is to say to ourselves 3 times every morning
"Look for the meaning, ignore the spelling".

Agree?

Gary

PS:
Are we still friends?
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Postby Ellen » Mon Feb 04, 2008 8:27 am

I do agree, Gary, and yes, we're still friends. :)

It's 6:55 AM here so...

"Look for the meaning, ignore the spelling"
"Look for the meaning, ignore the spelling"
"Look for the meaning, ignore the spelling" ;)

We should look for the meaning and ignore the spelling. In most cases I do too. For example, when I'm reading personal e-mail, reading forum posts, instant messages, and for the most part, reading anything in a casual, non-sales type of environment.

I'm by no means an expert writer myself. Though I do think most would be surprised if they knew how little formal education I've actually had. Maybe it's the perfectionist in me? :shock: I think of it as being detail oriented but in this case, either could explain my annoyance with poorly written sales copy. (I should have made that clear in my post. My error! ;))

GUILTY :wink:-- I've used "alot' where I meant "a lot" too. (I'm sure, since you mentioned it, Gary, that error jumped out at you when you read my post.) As you've said, though, it's a common enough error. This is the type of error I personally don't scrutinize. And not just because I've made the error before myself. In my mind this is an error the majority of readers wouldn't even catch, much less be bothered by if they did.

Just out of curiosity though, I Googled "alot" and had 158,000,000 results returned. I'd definitely say it's common.

Other errors, such as missuses of the words, there, their and they're, are also very common. And here again, I generally won't scrutinize as much in those situations either. As long as there are only occasional errors in the copy, and overall, I can understand what the writer meant to say, I'm fine with it.

It is when I can't understand what they're trying to convey to readers that I'm turned off. Or, as I pointed out in my earlier post, when the copy is outdated on a main sales page. More so even, when the error is on the sales page of someone who SELLS copy writing services.

I can completely relate with you concerning an obsession with "getting it right." I have faced similar issues with my own work. (Web Design.) It got to the point where I stopped enjoying the work altogether, because I couldn't keep myself from doing far more than I was supposed to, in an effort to ensure I had done everything right. For myself that meant much less pay for the actual time I'd put into a project. Not economical at all!

I posted because I was curious about the topic of this forum: "Writing for Publicity, Writing for Pay" -- Writing articles for free publicity, freelance writing, writing books, copywriting, editing and proofreading. If you write, or would like to, join us here in the Writer's Corner. And curious as to whether or not there was actually a market for proof-readers in general?

You've helped me see, although there might be a market for this (I think we can both agree, if there isn't, there ought to be ;),) I wouldn't be a good candidate for doing this type of work for others.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts with me, Gary. I do appreciate it very much!

Always a friend,

Ellen
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Postby GaryHarvey » Tue Feb 05, 2008 3:43 am

Glad you found a positive like that in my wee post, Ellen.

There's always a tension (in me, at least) between
doing something the way you enjoy doing it and
doing it at a commercially successful speed/quality.

Gary
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