The Proof is in the Proofing
Neglecting to proof your work before you send it along to the next step in the process is like not taste-testing your soup before serving it to grandma. If it’s too salty, grandma won’t care about how nice the house looks or the beautiful table setting you put out; she’s going to comment on the soup. And let’s hope she doesn’t find out your only backup meal is frozen chicken nuggets.
Fortunately, you don’t work for your grandma. But proofing your work before sending it along to your supervisor, donor, client, or anyone else will help you make sure all your good work isn’t forgotten in the shadow of one mistake that made it through.
Today, I’ll walk you through some items on the email proofing list used on the Communications team. Everyone’s work—how it’s done, the way you deliver it, what medium you use—is different, so I’ll note a few general principles we use. Then, take a look at your own work and see how you can proof it before it moves to the next step.
Email Proofing: Partial List
1. Read the text out loud.
Switching your method of reading the text (from in your head to out loud) can assist in catching errors or awkward phrasing. Printing your document and reviewing in a well-lit area can accomplish this too, depending on your preference.
2. Check degree formatting against GAIL.
There are often lots of little details to get right in our work, and getting someone’s degree right is an important one. GAIL is a great resource for checking on the small details around our constituents.
3. Call phone numbers.
This step embodies the principle of “test the item like you’re the end user.” Sure, the number looks right, and it matches the phone number listed on the website, but if it’s out of service and the first person to call the number is the constituent we’re communicating with, that’s a bad outcome.
Each of these steps above helps us deliver an email to the next step without mistakes, whether that next step is an important review or sending it to our audience. The Communications team is close to completing a handful of lists for proofing different mediums as an optional tool for ensuring quality deliverables, and will post them to the DAR Resources Page when ready. If you have a proofing checklist of your own for deliverables that your team produces, send them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org!