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DIY for Your Copyediting? More like, Oh My!

I never mince words when it comes to my opinion on checking your own writing, along with all business writing that represents you and your company. You or a trusted manager should review everything that leaves your building, whether it departs in an envelope, on a billboard, on video or virtually through electronic communication.

The reason you should review everything is to ensure quality, but mostly the tone and accuracy of your messages. Whether you rely on professionals or staff to check your business writing for spelling, grammar and general facts – important copyediting tasks – is up to you. But let me give you a good example of why you need professional copyediting and why you need, well, professional copyediting.

During the 2012 presidential campaign, materials appeared for Mitt Romney touting “A Better Amercia.” The embarrassing error was quickly picked up by media and went viral. A savvy copyeditor, who would have looked at the details instead of the value of the message, probably would have caught the error, saving the campaign money and plenty of negative attention that distracted from the candidate’s message.

In that case, a professional copyeditor could have prevented an error. Now, how about having a copyeditor who doesn’t quite know the professional ropes and goes overboard? Mail-order company L.L. Bean had to pay an unreleased sum of money a few years ago to a Virginia company because of a misprinted toll-free number on the retailer’s print catalog. It seems L.L. Bean has an 877 prefix for their toll-free number, but the copyeditor was unaware of the newer toll-free prefixes and changed the number to “800” without asking.

L.L. Bean had to purchase the number rather than reprint millions of catalogs. Professional copyeditors likely would follow up or question an unknown before making such an important change. It’s worth your money to hire a pro. And it’s worth your time to check those facts and details internal to your company that a new hire, ad agency or contractor might not know.

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