You want to get your utility’s message across as effectively as possible and want to look good and competent in the process (you are reading this blog article, right?). The following are some things to look for when proofing material before sending it off to the printer. It’s a veritable checklist that should be reviewed each time you proof a final draft.
1. Make a Checklist
Make a checklist of your own, including these tips and adding others as you see fit. Print it out, and check off each item as it is performed. This will help with consistency and improve the quality of your public outreach.
2. Read the Copy Out-Loud
Teacher’s tell this to their students all the time. It’s the quickest and easiest way to spot common errors with punctuation, word choice and the flow of sentences and paragraphs.
3. Get A Fresh Set of Eyes on It
Again, something you probably learned in school. When trying to communicate to an audience it’s imperative that you get perspective from outside of your own head and experience. Also, you may be too close to your writing and are unable to spot errors, that, despite several reviews, someone else will spot immediately.
Verify that the photographs are high-resolution. When dealing with a lot of colors, ensure that the text is readable against the background. Text should also be appropriately sized. In tables, review the content for consistency and review the spacing and alignment of the text within each cell.
5. Verifying Contact or Follow-up Information
A lot of brochures have phone numbers and addresses in them. Some even include hyperlinks. Verify phone numbers for hotlines or public facing phone numbers by copy and pasting them into a search engine and looking at the results. Ditto for addresses. For links, it can be as simple as clicking it and seeing if it opens the correct page, sometimes copy and pasting the link into the browser is involved.
Internal utility industry communications are full of acronyms. To help make a consumer-friendly brochure, verify that all acronyms are defined on the page they occur on. If the page has multiple boxes of information, it may be advisable to define re-ocurring acronyms in each box; or if it is a folded or multi-page brochure, it may be advisable to define the acronym on each panel or page it is used. Also, double check to make sure that the acronym is correct.
Using these tips is a good start for proofing the final draft. Good luck with your next piece of outreach!