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Top Tips for Proofreading Your Press Release

When you’re sending out a press release, you want to make sure it isn’t riddled with typos or grammar errors as mistakes undermine your credibility and make you look like an amateur. Admittedly, proofreading is one of my least favorite activities, but I have a few tips and tricks that make the process a little bit easier.

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  • Get away from it for a little while – If time allows, I recommend taking a 24 hour break after you write your press release before you edit it. Of course, you don’t always have that much time, but the point is this: Taking a break lets you come back to the press release with a fresh set of eyes. This increases the chances that you’ll find little mistakes that you may have overlooked when you wrote the press release.
  • Print it out – The computer screen just isn’t well suited for closely reading a document. For me anyway, it just places too much stress on my eyes. Printing out your press release makes it easier to examine it closely for mistakes. Have a red pen handy to mark typos, grammar errors, and other mistakes.
  • Read it aloud – Reading your press release out loud will help you identify misplaced/misused words and poorly worded sentences. If you come across a sentence that just doesn’t sound right when read aloud, mark it, and try to rephrase it to improve flow and clarity.
  • Eliminate distractions to allow full concentration – I don’t know about you, but I have to be in a special frame of mind for proofreading. I turn off all distractions (music, TV, phone, whatever), so I can focus on finding every single mistake that might be lurking in my press release. Concentration is the key to successful proofreading.
  • Try backwards reading – One of the oldest, most effective proofreading tips is to read your copy backwards. This snaps your brain out of the normal, passive way of doing things, forcing you to really pay attention to every word you read. This trick has worked for me on many occasions, helping me find errors I had overlooked earlier.
  • Use spelling and grammar check – Your word processor comes with spelling and grammar check for a reason. Use it. Just don’t rely solely on those tools to catch every mistake because they won’t.
  • Know which errors to look for – You should make a list of some of the most common errors you make in your writing. For some people, it’s getting words like affect and effect confused. Others mix up your and you’re, there, their, and they’re. Know the mistakes you’re most prone to make, and look specifically for them.
  • Let someone else look it over – Finally, have someone else proofread the press release before you finalize it and send it out. This brings another fresh set of eyes to it, ensuring no mistakes were left behind.

What are some other effective proofreading tactics you’d add to this list? Share your best tips by leaving a comment.

This article is written by Mickie Kennedy, founder of eReleases (http://www.ereleases.com), the online leader in affordable press release distribution. To subscribe to PR Fuel, visit: http://www.ereleases.com/prfuel/subscribe/.

12 Responses

  1. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by PRWriting: Top Tips for Proofreading Your Press Release http://ow.ly/17mK2 #pr RT @ereleases…

  2. Your tips are fabulous. Here are four more:

    –Check all numbers. If the headline says “8 tips for spring cleaning,” make sure there are 8 tips within the body copy. If the story says X is Y percent of Z, double-check it on a calculator.

    –If there’s a phone number within the press release, pick up the phone and call the number, even if you are the one who typed the number and you’re sure it’s correct! (This is old newspaper copy editor’s trick. Yes, I’m an old newspaper copy editor.)

    –Ditto with URLs. Make sure all URLs click through to correct web pages.

    –Make sure someone’s name is spelled the same way consistently throughout the release.

  3. As a proofreader/copyeditor as well as a publicist, I’d like to offer a few more tips based on material I’ve read.
    They include:
    – Proofread only when you are well-rested.
    – Remember the old comma rule: when in doubt, leave it out.
    – Learn the different between a dash and a hyphen. In terms of function, the hyphen is a connector and the dash is a separator.
    – Don’t use a hyphen at the end of a line unless the word actually contains a hyphen. When the document appears, the hyphen will also appear, even if the word is in the middle of a line. It then might also contain an unwanted space.
    – Learn the difference between singular, plural and possessive.
    – Use a ruler or folded sheet of plain white paper so that you only look at one line at a time.
    – Read every single word. Don’t skip over the little words. You might find out out that you’ve written “and” when you meant to write “the.”
    – Periods and commas go inside quotation marks in American English. Colons and semicolons go outside quotation marks. Question marks go inside if the quotation is a question, and outside if the sentence is a question but the quotation is a statement.
    Want more tips? I’ve posted them on Joan Stewart’s blog, http://ow.ly/1dcK1

  4. Rowena says:

    Great information about proofreading material. I have never heard of reading backwards but it sounds good and makes a lot of sense.

    I am going to d/l your ebook and see what other great tips you offer. Thanks

    I Can Sleep Better

  5. […] 12 proofreading tips for press releases, blogs & other copy Before you send that next press release, or add copy to your online press room, or post something to your blog, or upload a new article to an article directory site, use Mickie Kennedy’s 8 top tips for proofreading. […]

  6. Julie says:

    I agree. Don’t rely too much on your Word Processor’s grammar and spell check because it is not enough. The spelling checker can only tell you if words are misspelled; it cannot tell you if the word usage is incorrect. The grammar checker is even more limited; it cannot understand that many expressions have multiple meanings and that the context of a single word can change the entire meaning of a sentence.

    An experienced proofreader can spot all of these common errors as well as the uncommon ones.

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  8. […] Before you send that next press release, or add copy to your online press room, or post something to your blog, or upload a new article to an article directory site, use Mickie Kennedy’s 8 top tips for proofreading. […]

  9. Chi says:

    I am sure this article has touched all the internet viewers,
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  10. Karen says:

    Press release is an important tool for a company to communicate with its consumers that’s why we need to proofread it.

  11. Karen says:

    I’m about to prepare our press release and this advices are so timely. Will use them for my upcoming work.

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