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Where's the Proof?

You’d think the only thing us graphic designers would have to worry about is design-based elements – things like quality of images, color usage, and making sure a project is aesthetically balanced. Unfortunately one of the worst things that can happen is... (insert drumroll) the dreaded typo. Or bad grammar. Or the blatant spelling error.

Here’s the thing: if you’re going to put together a piece involving any kind of text, make sure it’s been proofread before clicking “print,” or sending the digital file to the entire staff. (Don’t ask how we know this.)

Coming from the perspective of graphic design, one of the worst things you can do is come up with the most aesthetically pleasing poster, newsletter, email, or even website... and neglect proofreading. If you’re the attentive type, you may have encountered advertisements, web pages or emails where the glaring mistakes virtually leap out and slap you in the face. It can ruin an entire piece that is otherwise quite lovely.

A word processor’s spellchecker is not enough. Let’s go over that again. A word processor’s spellchecker is not enough. Microsoft Word doesn’t always realize you meant “there” instead of “their.” Yes, that program can also check grammar, but it is never 100% accurate. It won’t know that you spelled your boss’ last name wrong. Or that you accidentally chose the wrong word in the list of corrected suggestions. (You could wind up with orangutans instead of oranges... which could be quite embarrassing.)

If your project is short enough, read it out loud – this can expose a lot of mistakes. When you read silently to yourself (especially if you’ve written the original), your brain will fill in blanks where there are missing words, and will even substitute misspelled words with correct ones. Granted, this is an amazing feature of our incredible brains, but it’s not very helpful when it comes to proofreading. Whether or not you can read it out loud, also have someone else proofread your work. A fresh set of eyes can do wonders. Then proof it one more time after you make any corrections. Then finally, finally call it done. But not before.

(And if you encounter any mistakes in this post... just realize we’re human too, softly chuckle, and read on.)


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