Lesson 6


Proofread Your E-mails

 

Competencies

This lesson teaches the following competencies:

  1. Go into a proofreading mode when you proofread.
  2. Proofread for errors that would create problems for the company.
  3. Proofread for formatting and consistency.
  4. Proofread charts, graphs, and illustrations.
  5. Do a separate numbers check.
  6. Check dates and times.
  7. Check phone numbers. If necessary, dial them to be sure they are accurate.
  8. Proofread for usage.
  9. Proofread the text of your message.
  10. Maintain a list of the constructions with which you normally have problems.
  11. Proofread the punctuation.
  12. Proofread for spelling.

 

Lesson Summary

The lesson summary contains the training information with few examples and activities. Read it if you want to go through the training more quickly. To skip to the full, detailed lesson, click here.

 

Learning How to Proofread Your E-mail

Proofread every e-mail you write. That may seem to add an unnecessary step, but you must proofread if you are to send out e-mails that are written correctly. Follow these guidelines to help you proofread your work.

  1. Don't rush.

  2. Look at individual words and phrases. Concentrate on seeing the words by themselves, not just strings of meaning. If you're just reading for meaning, you aren't proofreading.

  3. Proofread the e-mail looking only at numbers: dates, times, phone numbers, sequences of numbers. Double check important numbers. Call phone numbers if necessary. Try out Web links if you include them.

  4. Look for the words with which you normally have problems. Be conscious of those words when you see them. Check them carefully.

  5. Use your dictionary and grammar text regularly. You must have one of each at your desk. Know the URL for one of the online dictionaries (such as http://www.m-w.com/netdict.htm and http://www.dictionary.com/). You should use the dictionary several times a day. Look up any unusual word or word you aren't sure about.

 

Full, Detailed Lesson

Learning How to Proofread Your E-mail

Proofread every e-mail you write. That may seem to add an unnecessary step, but you must proofread if you are to send out e-mails that are written correctly. That is important for four reasons:

  1. Correctness adds to clarity. If you have spelling, punctuation, and grammar errors, the text will be more difficult to read and understand.

  2. People judge you by the correctness of your language use. That's just a fact of life. People will stereotype someone who uses the language incorrectly as uneducated or even unintelligent. It's just that educated people speak and write in educated ways; uneducated and illiterate people speak in ways that distinguish them easily from educated people.

  3. When you are careful, you show the reader that you care enough about your message, the reader, and your business to take the time to make things right. If you're careless, it sends the message that you don't care enough to spend the extra few minutes to be accurate and correct.

  4. Only by trying to use the language will you learn to use the language correctly. If you give up and don't try to locate and correct any errors, you don't benefit from the lesson you learn each time you correct an error. That keeps you at the same level of language use, which for some people is at grade-school level. They'll never become better at using the language because they don't work at correcting their use of the language.

Follow these guidelines to help you proofread your work.

  1. Don't rush.

  2. Look at individual words and phrases. Concentrate on seeing the words by themselves, not just strings of meaning. If you're just reading for meaning, you aren't proofreading.

  3. If you find yourself reading meaning without seeing individual words, stop. Refocus and start again. If your mind drifts, stop.

  4. During the time you're proofreading, eliminate as many distractions as you can. If someone is talking to you, stop, finish the conversation, and when they leave resume proofreading.

  5. If this e-mail is very important, proofread a paper copy of your e-mail. Reading text onscreen is more difficult.

  6. If you are having trouble proofreading a portion of the text, read it aloud, then read it silently.

  7. Do more than one pass at the document, looking for different things each time.

  8. Do a separate proofread for the formatting of anything in the e-mail whose format is repeated. Check to be sure the formatting is consistent throughout. Look at space before and after, indentation, font style, alignment, and any other characteristic of the format.

  9. After you have proofread the words, skim through the text looking at spacing. See whether there are stray spaces between words or differences in spacing for indentations and skipped lines.

  10. Proofread the e-mail looking only at numbers: dates, times, phone numbers, sequences of numbers. Double check important numbers. Call phone numbers if necessary. Try out Web links if you include them.

  11. Look for the words with which you normally have problems. Be conscious of those words when you see them. Check them carefully.

  12. Do a separate pass in which you look at each sentence to be sure that the punctuation is accurate.

  13. Use your dictionary and grammar text regularly. You must have one of each at your desk. Know the URL for one of the online dictionaries (such as http://www.m-w.com/netdict.htm and http://www.dictionary.com/). You should use the dictionary several times a day. Look up any unusual word or word you aren't sure about.

 

Confusing Word Pairs

Writers and proofreaders consistently have problems with 25 word pairs. The pairs are words that sound similar, but have very different meanings. Learn the meanings of these words. A quiz testing your knowledge of the correct use of the words follows this explanation:

  1. accept - receive something, recognize a truth, or approve of something

    except - to leave out or exclude

  2. accessible - easily approached or attained

    assessable - capable of being evaluated

  3. adverse - harmful or unfavorable

    averse - opposed to, reluctant, distasteful

  4. affect - bring about a change

    effect - a result

    Note, "effect" can be used to mean "create a change." "This new rule is intended to effect a change."

  5. among - in the midst of several things

    between - comparison of two things; area separating two things

    Note, "amongst" is not acceptable in formal writing.

  6. appraise - determine the value of something

    apprise - inform

  7. assure - inform to remove doubt or concern

    ensure - guarantee

    insure - take out insurance or act as insurance (Use "ensure" unless you are describing an insurance arrangement.)

  8. bimonthly, biannually - every other, or every two months or years

    semimonthly, semiannually - twice a month, or twice a year

  9. censor - review something and remove the objectionable parts

    censure - find fault with, or blame

  10. common - belonging equally to everyone

    mutual - belonging to everyone equally

  11. compliment - express praise or admiration

    complement - complete, make a whole, make perfect

  12. compose - create or form something

    comprise - consist of, or made up of

  13. consecutive - following one after another without interruption

    successive - following one another in order, but not necessarily without interruption

  14. continual - happening often, usually in rapid succession

    continuous - occurring without stopping

  15. discreet - using good judgment in terms of conduct

    discrete - separate and distinct, or individual

  16. distinct - clearly notable, individual, discrete

    distinctive - distinguishing, unique

  17. eminent - prominent, distinguished in reputation

    imminent - about to occur, threatening, impending

  18. exceedingly - extremely, extraordinarily

    excessively - beyond what is reasonable

  19. fewer - used with countable items

    less - used with quantities

  20. forward - at, near, or toward the front

    foreword - the beginning of a book or report

  21. impediment - hindrance, slowing progress toward a goal

    obstacle - something that completely stands in the way of the goal

  22. imply - express indirectly or hint

    infer - conclude or deduce

  23. indexes - alphabetical listings of subjects

    indices - a scientific or technical listing, or statistics

  24. precede - come before in time, place, or rank

    proceed - advance or continue

  25. principal - foremost in importance, head of a school

    principle - standard, rule, or ethical code

Study the meanings of the confusing word pairs. When you are ready, click on "Take the quiz" below to take a short quiz to evaluate your understanding of the confusing word pairs.


Click on the image to take the quiz.
Close the quiz window when you are finished.

 

Commonly Misspelled Words

The list of the 25 most commonly misspelled words follows. Study the spellings and take the quiz when you are ready. The link for the quiz follows this list.

  1. accommodate
  2. acknowledgment
  3. argument
  4. commitment
  5. consensus
  6. deductible
  7. dependent
  8. embarrass
  9. existence
  10. foreword
  11. harass
  12. inadvertent
  13. indispensable
  14. judgment
  15. liaison
  16. license
  17. occasion
  18. occurrence
  19. perseverance
  20. prerogative
  21. privilege
  22. proceed
  23. separate
  24. supersede
  25. withhold

Click on the image to take the quiz.
Close the quiz window when you are finished.

 

25 Common Business Writing
Usage Errors

Click on the link below to answer questions about the 25 most common business writing usage errors. You don't have to study them before answering the questions. You won't be graded on this activity. It is intended to let you know the errors you may be making and teach you the correct usage. A short explanation follows each of the answers so you can learn the correct form if you marked it incorrectly.


Click on the image to take the quiz.
Close the quiz window when you are finished.

 

 


Quiz