There is no doubt about the value of proofreading for quality control when creating polished copy; not only do proofreaders check text for errors, but they can correct or clarify grammar, spelling and punctuation, as well as comment on style or structure.
The benefits for your business are various: you avoid costly mistakes, build and protect a professional reputation, and reassure potential clients that you are a safe pair of hands.
Spellchecks and software that support the work of human editors are nothing new, but the amazing power and popularity of AI tools may pose a threat to some human jobs.
So, is there added value in choosing a marketing agency with in-house proofing?
Or should proofreaders just accept defeat, hang up their red pens, and download Grammarly?
Read on to find out more, and why the answers are important for your business.
Software and AI tools can enhance the service provided by in-house proofreaders…
It’s true that software and related tools have made checking and polishing marketing copy more accurate, consistent, and reliable.
There are three main software applications we use at Yardstick to complement our human proofreaders to ensure the content we deliver is clear, polished and error-free.
Proofreaders and editors are commonly advised to read their work aloud once finished, as it’s much easier to hear the awkward phrasing, errors, repetition or incorrect grammar that might be missed when skimming a passage silently.
Text-to-speech software, such as Word’s Read Aloud function, is perfect for this as it can handle long documents without getting tired, bored or distracted, can read exactly what is on the page, and can be sped up or slowed down to suit the user.
Find and Replace
Yardstick has its own house style that we use to ensure all our copy is accurate, consistent and error-free. The “Find and replace” tool is one way that proofreaders can quickly find errors that reoccur during a document.
The related Find function (Ctrl + F) means that if a client has a specific preference or request, such as the spelling or formatting of a company name or product, then this tool can quickly locate, check, and correct the text.
Automatic Word Settings
There are many language and house style rules to remember when proofreading a piece of text, and often a proofreader will have to carry out separate passes for meaning, grammar, formatting and spelling so that they can fully concentrate on one thing at a time. This is where tools like those found in Word Options can be so valuable.
For example, in the image below I have navigated through the Word menu from File > Options > Proofing > Settings and can select the issues that I want to check for. In this case, we like to avoid passive voice where possible, so Word will underline any sentence that it deems to be passive so that the human proofreader can make the final decision on the best way to rewrite that sentence.
…But in-house proofreading offers value that AI cannot
Digital tools are an important part of quality control for producing polished marketing copy, but they have severe limitations that require an in-house proofreader to be at the helm at all times.
Beware of spell-checking tools
AI can spot errors it is trained to recognise, but that means that it won’t always consider the context in which the word appears. So, while it would correct a misspelling of “their” in a sentence, it would not recognise that perhaps the correct word should have been “there” instead of “their” because, technically, the word is spelled correctly, even if it is the wrong choice in this instance.
Human proofreaders immediately recognise what looks right or wrong, in terms of nuance and context, in a way that no AI is yet able to replicate.
Working with a marketing agency who knows your business closely means that the proofreaders can tailor the corrections to your exact target audience.
AI tools can make broad general recommendations based on categories like “informal / formal / professional” and so on, but a good proofreader can spot all the gradations in between, so that the copy captures the tone and character of your business’s voice and make sure that it is appealing to your ideal clients.
A second pair of eyes
One of the most troubling elements of AI like ChatGPT is their frequent “hallucinations”. This is not the premise of a science-fiction anime, but rather a fancy way of saying “making really egregious mistakes but presenting them as if they are fact”. These kinds of factual or linguistic errors could be very costly for your business.
However, with an in-house team of writers and proofreaders, passing a text through multiple checks from fresh perspectives, means that the end product is exactly what you ordered.
In our opinion, in-house proofreading jobs are too valuable to go anywhere for the time being.
Get in touch
Whether you want to discuss the finer points of proofreading or stockpiling canned goods for the imminent rise of the robots, get in touch.
You can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 0115 8965 300 to talk to us.