Have you ever made a cringe-worthy typo? I have. Embarrassing typos reflect on your expertise for creating detailed oriented reports and other work product for attorneys. Knowing how to proofread your work product makes the difference between something that makes you ashamed and something that makes you proud.
Sound harsh? There are a lot of typos in everyday signs, on the internet and in ads – who cares? Attorneys do. It is not acceptable to turn in work with typos. Period. End of story.
Google also cares. Websites with typos get lower rankings.
Having said that, no one is perfect. My goal is to be as clear and accurate as possible. I use some techniques to proofread that you might find valuable.
1. Proofread when you are fresh. Is this when you first wake up? Right after dinner? Do this work when you are most alert and able to focus.
2. Avoid last-minute proofing. Whenever possible, write your report, walk away from it and look at it again the next day. I know, sometimes attorneys are in a rush, but you will do a better job proofing if you allow the report to settle overnight before you look at it again.
3. Print it out. It is easier for most writers to spot errors on paper rather than on a monitor. Get out the red pen and go to work.
4. I’m going to assume for these tips that you are writing a report. Look at it in stages. For example, you might first read the body of the report for typos that spell check does not catch. You know those pesky ones, like int he, and form versus from and trial versus trail.
5. That is my next point. You may habitually make the same mistakes. Look for the words you commonly misspell.
6. After looking at the body of the report, look at the headers. Make sure you are consistently capitalizing the major words in your headers. If you use subheads, the first word of the subhead is capitalized.
7. Look for consistency. One of the common errors I have seen is experts not being consistent in writing dates. Pick one method and stick with it. Either write out the month in letters or use numbers, but don’t use both systems in one document.
8. Look for what I call idiosyncratic capitalization. Don’t capitalize the names of medical diagnoses or surgeries, unless the diagnosis is a person’s name, like Alzheimer’s disease.
9. Have someone else with excellent proofreading skills read your report – a spouse, trusted friend, another LNC – just to get a different perspective and to make sure you did not miss anything obvious.
10. People are very touchy about wanting their names to be spelled and pronounced correctly. Just yesterday someone called me Mrs. Iyler. I really dislike being called Mrs. Lyer. What a bad name for an expert witness! Be sure the attorney’s name is spelled correctly.
Use these proofreading tips to gain mastery of what is the final stage of any LNC work product. Improve your knowledge of spelling, commonly confused words, capitalization and punctuation rules by getting a copy of The Writing Handbook for LNCs. This workbook and DVD product will make your reports shine. Order the Writing Handbook for LNCs here.
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