Proofreading: The devil’s in the detail

Proofreading a Business Proposal

Is proofreading all about grammar and punctuation? No, siree!

I’m often asked if proofreading is just about typos, punctuation and grammar. Proofreading is, ahem, one of the oldest professions, and I can tell you there is a lot more to it.

Let’s take a lengthy business proposal

This is your chance to put your client’s requirements in a context that favours your own products or services. You can educate the potential client about how your business can satisfy their needs. A successful proposal results in a sale when both parties get what they want. Win-win.

The compelling business case you are conveying is window-dressed with punctuation, grammar, formatting, styling etc.

Imagine if the font or the formatting changed halfway through. What about if the hyperlinks were broken, or the job titles, company names and postcodes were incorrect! Terminology can change to describe the same thing. (Is it a canteen or a staff restaurant?) Sometimes pictures and illustrations relate incorrectly to the content, or the figure tables simply don’t add up.

Paragraphs using different margins, inconsistent terminology, typos, spelling errors, broken links, poor grammar and incorrect punctuation are damaged window dressing. They interfere with the business communication. The reader’s concentration and willingness to absorb your business proposal has been interrupted. It is likely he is thinking more about the misdemeanour(s) he has discovered than the messages you want him to receive.

Now the content is not so compelling; the reader is questioning the proposer’s quality standards and attention to detail.

How can a proofreader help?

A good proofreader will check and verify all of these details with the benefit of a fresh pair of eyes. Proofreading will correct typos, punctuation and grammar, yes, but also anything else contained within the content that could be erroneous. The devil’s in the detail; having your business proposal checked by a proofreader could be the difference between win-win or lose-lose.

Photo credit: the Italian voice / Foter / CC BY


2014 01 UKBA Shortlisted Image


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Lindsay McLoughlin has a love affair with social media. She combines these tools to great effect with her other big love – blogging! She runs a copywriting, blogging, editing and proofreading service at She loves talking to and interacting with anyone that will “listen” over social media. Check out her blog at or connect with her on social media. She’d be delighted!

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