Grammar and Proofreading SkillsAdministrative Assistant Resource
October 4, 2012 — 3,249 views
Even if you are excellent at performing many other skilled tasks related to your job, poor grammar and proofreading skills give a bad impression of you and your company. Developing excellent written communication skills grants you a professional voice and lends credibility to your words. Here is a brief guide to help you catch some common errors that may not be caught by a word processing program.
Check all of your commonly misused words. It is a good idea to bookmark a website containing a list of these words for easy reference.
For example, if you have used the words affect or effect, check to make certain you have used it correctly. Note the differences in the following correct sentences: “The new law will have an immediate effect on payroll.” “The new laws affect payroll.”
Another common problem is using “or” when “nor” should be used. This sentence is incorrect: “Neither the computers or the phones will be replaced.” The correct version is the following: “Neither the computers nor the phones will be replaced.”
Apostrophe problems crop up everywhere and word processors rarely tag these errors. Remember that, generally, the apostrophe goes in front of the s for singular possessive items and behind the s for plural possessive. “Fiona’s income has increased by several million dollars.” “The seven executives’ wives all got together for a holiday charity bash.” One important exception is “it.” Remember that the possessive form of “it” is “its.” There is no apostrophe unless you wish to mean, “It is.”
“Your” and “you’re” are commonly misused. “Your” is a possessive pronoun. “You’re” means “You are.” Here are some examples of correct usage: “This is mine. That is yours.” “We will send your invoice via certified mail.” “When you’re at the hotel, call us before calling the car service.” “If you’re going to be away for a week, you must fill out the form.”
Proofreading is essential for avoiding embarrassing typographical errors and grammar mistakes. Check the entire document. Triple-check proper names to make sure you have spelled them correctly. Pay special attention to business names with tricky spelling. For example, a company in the United States may be called “The Smith Center for Research,” while a company in the United Kingdom may be called, “The Smith Centre of Research.” Word processing programs may not catch this or may even change U.K. spelling to the U.S. spelling automatically.
After proofreading once, set the document aside for a while, if possible, and then proofread it at least one more time.