Monday, 23 July 2012

First and only

Tautological adspeak and poor at that. You can't be 'first and only'. When you were first, you were the only; if you are the only, then you were, and are, the first.

You might consider 'the first and still the only'. Don't: 'only' is sufficient here. However, 'still the only' works as a shorter, punchier, phrase and makes a point about your uniqueness and the lack of serious competition. And it's the same number of words as the first, incorrect effort.

There, that was easy, wasn't it?

A simple proofreading system

It isn't difficult to proofread but it can take time to do it efficiently - unless you have a system. Reading straight through the document and hoping for the best usually doesn't work that well. It leads to reading for comprehension and then you read what should be there, rather than what actually is there.

A simple system is required:

Concentrate You can't be on the phone, listening to the radio or having a conversation with colleagues and expect to be able to spot errors

Break up the text There are various ways of doing this. You could, for example, break the document into columns and read straight down each column; you could jump around the document reading 'blocks' of text (this is good for checking hard data such as values, quantities etc.); try reading the second half of the line before the first half (tricky, but effective)

Concentrate See above

Don't look for all types of errors at once There are too many types of errors to find them all in one go. Be prepared to scan the document two or even three times to find different sorts of errors. For example: hard data, then grammar, then typos

Concentrate Getting the message?

Finally, skim the full document Having found all, or most of the errors, read through the document, fast, to check that it makes good sense.

And don't forget to c*********e.