When a client asks us proofread their annual report, financial statements, PDS, RAP or similar, we’re often told: ‘you won’t find much as we’ve read through the document in-house a few times’.
The reality is we make an average of 10 mark-ups a page. In a 100-page document, that’s around 1,000 mark ups. Client are shocked or at least, very surprised.
The trouble is, it’s so easy to miss what later seems obvious. In 2011, the Australian Defence Forces came under fire for issuing service personnel in the Middle East with embroidered badges identifying them as belonging to the ‘Royal Australlian Navy’. It’s unbelievable that no one spotted the mistake before the badges were released. But no one did.
If you’ve put together any kind of document for stakeholders, you’ll know that the risk of mistakes occurring grows exponentially the greater the number of people involved in the document’s production.
As proofreaders for companies such as Qantas, Lendlease, Brambles and Credit Corp, we’ve found countless doozies. ‘Australian’, ‘divided’ (dividend), ‘singing’ (singing), ‘mangement’ (management), polices (policies) are among many examples.
Even when clients run the content by their colleagues for a check, mistakes still slip through. That’s because when you’ve been working on a document for weeks, you know what’s coming next, which makes it very difficult to read the content afresh.
So, how do you avoid having so many mark ups?
1. Have one person who hasn’t been involved in writing the document proofread the final version before it goes to your designer. As well as reading for extra words and missing words, spelling mistakes and grammatical errors, brief that person to:
a) Check that words that use initial capitals appear with initial capitals all the way through
b) Check that phrases using hyphens appear with hyphens all the way through.
2. After design, check:
a) the heading hierarchy is correct
b) the page numbers match those in the table of contents
c) the headings and subheadings match those in the table of contents
These are a few of the most common mistakes we see as proofreaders for annual reports and other major complex documents. For risk assurance for your documents, please give us a call and watch our video of helpful proofreading tips.