Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Proofing - A Critical Function Not to be Overlooked

No matter how hard I try to get it right I always find errors in my writing after it has been posted on the web. Pj Germain has come to the rescue by submitting this article with some great advice for finding mistakes and learning new habits before it's too late. Pete

By: Pj Germain

Business people universally agree that mechanical mistakes detract from the professionalism of communications. However, those with proofreading responsibilities commonly experience real frustrations in producing error-free work. They typically identify certain specific obstacles to accurate proofreading.

1. Overlooking mistakes when proofreading
2. Making time for proofreading in a pressured environment
3. Lacking self-confidence in a reliable system
4. Providing helpful, non-critical proofreading support to others
5. Lacking certainty about acceptable guidelines.

In the rush and pressure of sending communications, writers are often tempted to skip the final proofreading step. They send it to their printer, and approve it without really proofing it. After all, if the content is clear, who will mind a few mechanical mistakes?

In reality, readers do mind. Many readers report that their opinion of the writer's professionalism goes down a notch with every error they see. Mechanical mistakes send a message that writers are not investing much effort in the communication that, in effect, writers do not care.

In addition, overlooked proofreading errors can sometimes change the content often with some significant financial results.

1. One government agency wasted $3 million by not catching a hyphen error when proofreading a purchase order. In originally writing the order, the agency had meant to say, "1,000-foot-long radium bars." The order was typed, "1,000 foot-long radium bars."


Monday, December 18, 2006

Writing On The Web - Part 7

Bytepowered Articles

Basic Punctuation

By: Staff, Ally

End Punctuation

Here we will start with the end. If it weren't for end punctuation a person would not know if the writer is making a statement, an exclamation or question. Punctuation provides clarity in meaning for its readers.


A period of course ends nearly all sentences, except direct questions and exclamations. If the sentence contains an indirect question then end the sentence with a period, not a question mark.

Example: Ally asked her English composition teacher when Steven King wrote The Shining.

Abbreviations and Periods

A period follows most abbreviations and for some a twenty eight day cycle. Others can be used or not as in the examples below with initial abbreviations.

Standard abbreviations: Mrs., Inc., Dr.
Initials abbreviations: C.P.A, R.N., Ph.D. or CPA, RN OR PhD


Acronyms are abbreviations spoken as words like the examples below. Think we are all familiar with CRS.

Examples: ESP, IRS, USA, SNAFU or CRS

Periods are not used with postal service abbreviations!

I'm guilty of this one, are you?

Examples: PO Box, OH, FL, GA, NY, USA, RD, TSR, LN, AVE,


The comma is probably the most abused punctuation mark just because it has such a variety of uses. Natural pauses are the most common errors. Commas help to clarify the meaning of your sentences. Reading a sentence to yourself will help you decide where to place it correctly. Again don't over use it and make your writing look cluttered.

If there is more than one comma, start a second sentence at the second one. At that point your heading for a confusing run-on sentence for your reader anyway. Can you tell the subject of the example below? No, because there are more than one. If there is more than one subject in your sentence, then you should have more than one sentence for clarity and ease of reading.

Example: Went to the grocery store today, ran into an old chum while I was there, however, finding the tartar sauce, was foremost in my mind.
Example Fixed: Went to the grocery store today. Ran into an old chum while I was there. However, finding the tartar sauce was foremost in my mind.

Question Mark

Use a question mark at the end of a sentence when asking a direct question. Basically, a question mark in parenthesis, should be used when your information is lacking--
such as a birthday, correct number of the year or a word as in spelling. Notice no space needed either between the number and parenthesis.

Example: Robin Williams was born in 1957(?) and went on to be a great actor as well as comedian.

Exclamation Mark

Exclamation marks are used to emphasis or show emotion. As with most punctuation, over usage of an exclamation point lessens its meaning and element of surprise. More than one exclamation point or grouping of them only clutters your work.

Examples: No way! Get out of here! Go home!

Reference: For the grammar unknown to me and research material, the credit goes to The Writer's Brief Handbook, second edition published by Alfred Rosa and Paul Eschholz. Copyright © 1996 by Allyn & Bacon.

Ally is an accomplished writer of poetry, essays and articles as well as expert editor at She has won two Editor's Choice Awards from The National Library of Poetry(1996-98). These awards were for works of poetry published by The National Library of Congress in a series of anthologies. Also she has some background in graphic communications technology. Contact AllyC: Bytepowered Articles
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