I just received an “Oops!” email from our beloved, prestigious public television station. When I read the subject line, “Oops! Correction for Rick Steves Preview Screening and Q+A!” I instantly knew what the oops must be: a date error.
Indeed, the email opened “Apologies, there was a date typo in our last email! The Rick Steves event will be taking place on TUESDAY, OCTOBER 16.”
The previous email had contained the wrong day of the week.
Day/date errors like this one are the reason for many oops messages. But other avoidable errors regularly get in the way of effective emails: names spelled wrong, unattached attachments, and dead or vague links, to name a few. (A link is vague when it links to a home page rather than to the specific web page the reader needs.)
Below is my email proofreading checklist. Use it as a tool whenever your email contains details that must be correct.
EMAIL PROOFREADING CHECKLIST
Check to ensure:
|1. The subject line is precise and up to date.|
|2. Email addresses of recipients, including any Cc recipients, are correct.|
|3. Names of the recipients and of other persons and entities are correct and consistent throughout.|
|4. Pronouns (him, his, her, hers, their, theirs) match their associated names. [Errors creep in when you reuse emails for new recipients.]|
|5. Dates and day-date combinations are accurate.|
|6. Numbers (cases, phone numbers, addresses, dollar amounts, etc.) are correct.|
|7. Attachments are cited correctly in the message, and current versions are attached.|
|8. References to documents, page numbers, articles, etc., are correct.|
|9. Links are live and correct.|
|10. The message makes sense and is complete.|
|11. No typos or errors in spelling, grammar, or punctuation exist.|
If you’d like systematic practice using this checklist, as well as a document checklist for other kinds of content, take my self-study course Proofread Like a Pro. The free trial gives you a taste of the course content and its value.
What kinds of oops errors do you encounter? Another oops message I sometimes receive is “Oops–sorry I didn’t read your message carefully. Never mind.” I guess a Number 12 in the checklist above might be “If replying, I’ve read the original email first.”
I welcome your comments.