I started teaching a short course in business English a few weeks ago. This week, the members of the class discussed tactics they use to proofread business letters.
- Read the letter backwards – Start with the final sentence and read each sentence. The student that contributed this tip said that reading “backwards” lets him look at the words without getting caught up in the letter’s content.
- Read the letter out loud – Let the ear catch what the eye misses.
- Read the letter with an awareness of the sins of its creator – Look carefully for the kinds of errors that are typical of the person who wrote the letter.
- Print the letter and proof a hard copy – Errors are easier to see on paper than on screen.
- Let some time pass between writing and proofing – Let a final draft sit for a while before proofing it. Come at it with fresh eyes.
- Find the office English major – Let another person give the letter a look before it goes in the mail.
If you have a good technique that you use to proofread, I would love to add it to our list.
This post written by Tampa English tutor Eric Anderson. Eric tutors grammar and writing. Contact him at 813.787.8959 or using the magic of e-mail at Tampa tutor (at) Tampabay.rr.com.