It’s true! I have on good authority. Recently, I worked with a company involved in tendering for large contracts. My contact said that they had come to me because, in the past, they had tenders fail at the last hurdle. This was often due to the number of errors in spelling, punctuation and grammar – all things that a proofreader can spot and correct.
What can you do about it?
It helps to use the tools that are readily available. After all, computers come with a built in spell-checker. Of course, you cannot completely rely on that bit of kit because if you have spelled a word correctly, it won’t tell you if you have used it in the wrong context. That’s a difficulty that often arises with homophones – words that sound the same but a spelled differently. Some people say that they switch off the spell-checker because they don’t like all the wriggly lines appearing. That’s silly! The wriggly lines help you. And once you have corrected the spelling error, they go away.
What else can you do? Use a dictionary. If you use a good old-fashioned paper dictionary you will learn the spelling and meaning of other words. How? Because at the same time as you are looking up the word that you are unsure of, your eyes will be drawn to the definition of other words around it on the page. Of course, you can use one of the many online dictionaries, but you may not learn as much.
If the document you are checking is really important, and I put a tender document in this category, it helps enormously to have another pair of eyes look it over. But, before you subject someone else to this task, you can help yourself by reading the document over from start to finish. Read it out loud. Honestly, if you do this, you will be more likely to spot errors because you will be forced to read more slowly, and you will hear the words as well.
All of this is true for any document, whether a tender document, a report or analysis, a job application or a CV. Skip it at your peril.
- Use a spell-checker
- Correct the spellings – either as you go along or when you read through
- Use a dictionary
- Read the document out loud
- Get someone else to read the document too
…a proofreader is more than happy to work with you to iron out the irregularities in your spelling, punctuation and grammar. It’s their job and they like doing it, even if you don’t.