The NZIBS Proofreading and Editing course prepares graduates interested in freelance business and those wishing to enhance their transferable skillset strategically with a prospective employer or the company or organisation where they are currently employed.

Reading and writing literacies are an integral part of many roles in almost every industry. Those who are fluent readers and competent writers are generally in high demand across public and private organisations. Most people in New Zealand can write, but few can write well. Fewer still can objectively check and evaluate writing for accuracy and consistency, vital for ensuring quality in critical communications.

Employees with proofreading training have highly valued soft skills and technical capabilities transferable across industries. As well as possessing the obligatory knowledge and understanding of the English language, spelling, and grammar, they also have an eye for detail, a systematic approach and an absolute passion for spotting and correcting errors. All of which represents a winning combination for employers interested in building their in-house organisational capability for quality communications with external audiences!

Like writing, proofreading comprises an acquired skill set that can be developed with training and practice. Typically, a proofreader will check and correct spelling, grammar and punctuation errors. They can also identify formatting and layout inconsistencies and check the accuracy (if required) of page numbering, tables, headings, cross-references and other graphic elements. A proofreader will also ensure written content adheres to recognised style guides and publishing conventions.

Well-trained proofreaders are proficient with standard proofreading marks (i.e. hard copy editing) and electronically using track changes in Microsoft Word and comments tools in Adobe Acrobat to amend PDFs or web content. Staff with proofreading skills will also have handy insights into different levels of editing required at key stages of the publishing process and be able to provide critical support for liaisons with contractors and agencies. 

The fact is that staff with a knowledge of proofreading can provide vital support for internal quality assurance processes. Research findings show that human perception prioritises what it expects to see, fills in the gaps, and overrides errors. Computers will identify obvious spelling and grammar mistakes but are frequently confused by homonyms, technical terms and style preferences. Here is an example of how these aspects work using a line from a familiar nursery rhyme:

  • Mary had a little lamb. Its fleece was white as snow
  • Mry hda a ittlle amb ist flece ws wite as no.
  • Merry had a title balm tis fleas was wight as know.

Line 1 is a standard extract. In line 2, although there are some missing or jumbled letters, most people can still recognise the rhyme. In line 3, a spellchecker would probably approve all terms in the sentence despite the incorrectly used words. 

In comparison, a professionally-trained proofreader learns to read differently from the average reader and has strategies at their fingertips that guarantee the above types of errors don’t escape their attention!

Overall, employees with proofreading skillsets represent a versatile and indispensable asset for any business or organisation wishing to increase its overall capability and productivity. They can make a vitally important contribution to all facets of communication by ensuring:

  • Error-free content
  • Professional presentation
  • Enhanced in-house communications

Businesses often invest significant resources in developing content strategies and marketing campaigns and a range of reports using traditional print and social media to distribute important messages to reach their client audiences. Accurate and reliable content reinforces an organisation’s reputation and ensures a brand’s integrity isn’t compromised by careless mistakes and omissions. Typos and errors in content, copy or communications can detract from the desired impression a business or organisation wants to make with current and prospective customers.

Content is often written, compiled and published in a pressurised environment. Multiple in-house contributors, busy workloads and tight deadlines increase the likelihood of minor errors slipping through the process. Asking people to proofread their work is problematic as authors are often too close to their work to notice their own mistakes. Computer spellcheckers are also seldom capable of picking up all errors. Having in-house staff with the requisite expertise to check high-priority paperwork before publication and critical communications before being publicly released can save businesses from unnecessary mistakes and protect their brand.

If you want to know more about acquiring a new skillset as a proofreader and editor to enhance your CV or improve your chances of an internal promotion, check out the Proofreading and Editing course.

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