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Proofreading Perfection

Do you get frustrated when, despite your best proofreading efforts, an error slips by? It happens to everyone, including me.

In yesterday’s E-Tips ezine from Upwrite Press, I found an excellent description of the investment one company makes to ensure that its documents are free of errors. In the ezine, Brenda Stefanowski, executive assistant of Weekenders USA, Inc., provided a list of eight departments and people who review a new form or communication after it is created but before it is used:

  1. The department requesting the form
  2. The accounting department, which tracks the costs, sales, tax, and shipping numbers
  3. The customer service department, which interprets and answers questions
  4. The IT department, which creates the SKU [stock number, “Stock Keeping Unit”] and sets the product up in the ordering/tracking system
  5. The distribution department, which manages inventory and ships the product
  6. The sales department, which promotes the product
  7. A trained proofreader
  8. Someone not directly involved with the project, who confirms the clarity of the message

Weekenders makes this investment because the company communicates with an outside sales force of over 10,000. But Stefanowski noted that “even with these measures in place, perfection is still a destination not yet reached.”

If errors can go unnoticed in a company that has at least eight sets of eyes reviewing a document, who are you and I to expect perfection?

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By Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston has helped thousands of employees and managers improve their business writing skills and confidence through her company, Syntax Training. In her corporate training career of more than 20 years, she has worked with executives, engineers, scientists, sales staff, and many other professionals, helping them get their messages across with clarity and tact.

A gifted teacher, Lynn has led writing classes at more than 100 companies and organizations such as MasterCard, Microsoft, Boeing, Nintendo, REI, AARP, Ledcor, and Kaiser Permanente. Near her home in Seattle, Washington, she has taught managerial communications in the MBA programs of the University of Washington and UW Bothell. She has created a communications course, Business Writing That Builds Relationships, and provides the curriculum at no cost to college instructors.

A recognized expert in business writing etiquette, Lynn has been quoted in "The Wall Street Journal," "The Atlantic," "Vanity Fair," and other media.

Lynn sharpened her business writing skills at the University of Notre Dame, where she earned a master's degree in communication, and at Bradley University, with a bachelor's degree in English.