This month's Better Writing at Work e-newsletter features the article "10 Tips for Proofreading Your Emails."
Here are three of my favorite tips, followed by two that readers sent me:
1. Double-check the spelling of names. Check the signature block of any message you are replying to, to be sure you are writing to Kathryn rather than Katherine, Catharine, or Kathy. Also, be careful of organization names and abbreviations. The U.S. Coast Guard is not USGC. The Canadian Broadcasting Company is not CCB.
2. Check dates, times, and day-date combinations. Open your calendar to be sure May 1 is a Friday (it's not). Also, check dates and times carefully before sending a meeting request, and remember that Outlook adjusts meeting times for the time zones of your recipients.
3. Test every hyperlink. Be sure it is live and accurate. Remember that your grammar and spelling checker will not flag a typo in a URL. Also, be sure the email describes the link accurately. For example, www.redcross.org does not link to a specific Red Cross endeavor, so an email should not suggest that it does.
4. Read your paragraphs backwards, that is, read the sentence at the end of the paragraph first, then the one above, and so on. This approach allows you to disassociate what you intended to write from what is actually there and to catch incomplete or incoherent sentences that have sneaked into revisions. (This tip came from Rachel Petrich of Port of Seattle.)
5. Be sure you have indicated the time zone of a meeting or a phone call when your reader is in another time zone. That way, when you write, “I will call you at 11 a.m.,” there is no confusion about whether you mean 11 a.m. Pacific Time or 11 a.m. Eastern Time. (This tip came from Tim Jones of NetSpeed Learning Solutions as an add-on to Tip 2 above.)
2017 UPDATE: I am excited to offer you a new course, Proofread Like a Pro. It's filled with proofreading tips, exercises, and insights.