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Why proofreading is not an optional extra

Proofreading marks applied to textWhen a prospective client recently contacted me and asked for a quote to proofread a set of large documents, naturally I was happy to oblige.

After some further discussions to assist in compiling our standard project brief and carrying out a review of a sample document, we were able to estimate the time required and cost the project accordingly. I also provided a number of case studies from similar projects.

As it turned out, we didn’t win the project. The prospect told me that she had been impressed with our approach and had argued strongly in favour of accepting our proposal over that of our competitor, but was ultimately overridden by her manager. It turns out that the cost of proofreading the final documents hadn’t been factored in to the original project budget, so the manager wanted to go with the lowest price possible.

It’s probably worth mentioning that this isn’t the first time I’ve come across this situation. For some reason, editing and proofreading are often overlooked in project planning and costing, even when the final deliverable takes the form of a large printed document. Perhaps it has something to do with the largely invisible nature of our work. When it is done well, no one notices (nor should they) the work involved in editing and proofreading the content. When it is done badly, or not at all, everyone notices.

After all the hard work that goes into a project, if the documentation provided to the client contains spelling and grammatical errors, is poorly structured and generally difficult to read, it reflects badly on everyone involved, and the expense saved on proofreading may prove to be a greater cost in the long run.

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photo credit: volkspider via photopin cc