Why you need to proofread your text

Proofreading refers to the act of checking a written text to identify and correct any mistakes made by the author, especially those related to grammar, punctuation, and spelling. None of us was born an infallible writer, a perfect grammarian, or an English language punctuation guru. Therefore, when we write any form of important text, we need to ask a professional proofreader to review it and correct any errors.

People write texts for a multitude of purposes. For instance, a PhD candidate may write a presentation or essay, a researcher may author an article for publication in an academic or scientific journal, a book author will write a novel or short story, a lawyer will draft a contract or a report to a court of law, a website owner will write content designed to attract customers, and a company will produce an annual report on its transactions and operations.

For prospective academics, the manuscripts they submit to their supervisors must not include any spelling, punctuation, or grammatical errors. If these are found, their grade will be reduced as language forms part of the marking criteria for academic papers. Hence, it is essential for academic students to ensure their essays or dissertations are proofread before submission.

Similarly, a paper submitted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal must not include any grammatical, spelling, or punctation mistakes. The writing must be immaculate, otherwise the journal will simply reject the paper for failing to meet the standard of written English required. This is because journals wish to maintain a strong reputation and thus set strict requirements for the papers they publish.

In the same vein, imagine a book being sent to a publisher that contains an abundance of grammatical, spelling, or punctuation mistakes. The publishing house may well refuse to publish it. Even if a book has made its way to shelves in bookstores and includes a number of mistakes, what would you – as a reader – say to yourself about the writer and the quality of the book? A book that has not been professionally proofread has little chance of being published, whereas a book proofread by a professional editor will have a much better chance.

In a legal context, certificates, contracts, agreements, defence papers, and court reports are just a few of the English language texts written by lawyers. Given the serious and critical nature of these documents, the English they employ must be perfect and 100% error-free. There is no room for a spelling error or grammatical mistake in a business contract or a report submitted to a court of law as this could change the meaning of the text, which could have undesirable consequences.

Similarly, imagine you visit an official website and find numerous mistakes as you start reading and browsing its content, or come across a UK website using American English (or vice versa). How credible would you find such a website? Would you continue checking it or simply leave it and move to another? Drafting website content in excellent and compelling English is essential for the survival and reputation of any online company. No matter how many pages a website contains, it should be entirely free of grammatical, spelling, or punctuation errors.

Annual reports written and produced by companies on their business operations are also of the highest importance. Language mistakes can – at the very least – be extremely embarrassing, especially for well-established companies.

To conclude, if you write a text that is important to you and making language mistakes is likely to have adverse consequences, it is safer and wiser to have this text proofread by a professional editor or proofreader before sending it to your intended audience or reader.