Proofing the Pudding: Steps for Proofing Projects In-house

I don’t get much time to watch television but when I do, I like programs that reveal some aspect of the creative process. Food Network’s Chopped, for example, is interesting because during one episode, chefs are challenged with baskets filled with crazy combinations of “mystery” ingredients that under an extremely restrictive cooking and plating deadline, showcase each chef’s mastery of culinary creativity.

The reactions from the celebrity chef judges when tasting these concoctions are classic.

The three main reasons why chefs get eliminated are for not tasting their food, sloppy plating and forgetting a mystery ingredient. How many of us can relate to creating what we thought was a masterpiece only to have an administrative assistant or someone from IT point out the CEOs name was misspelled or a link has been incorrectly connecting to something absolutely nutty on the internet for weeks. Look, ignoring the details is the fine line between producing mediocrity or excellence.

It doesn’t matter how well you art direct a photo shoot, wrote copy or considered every aspect of the user’s experience, if there is a typo or some fact that was not verified by a reliable source, your organization’s brand could be jeopardized. If mistakes become habitual, the respect for your in-house team could vanish almost immediately.

The value in proofing shouldn’t be taken for granted in-house. Honestly, the very best writers, designers and Web developers’ work should be proofed for accuracy and aesthetics. There are many project management solutions available that provide online proofing options. They’re really awesome tools but not every in-house manager can afford those solutions. Sometimes you have to go with the old school option for budgetary reasons.

Below is a great example of a proofing checklist. You can use the content as is or customize it for when you need a project routed and proofed. It provides steps you can share with stakeholders (admins, project managers, clients etc.) for proofing the amazing projects your in-house team cooks up, hot and fresh daily:

Please proof enclosed document using a colorful pen. Keep all materials together in this project folder. Once completed, check off your name, date and forward to the next person on the list. This is the only proof.

Project Manager Proofing Responsibilities

  • All factual information is accurate and spelled properly (names, titles, addresses, dates, prices, phone numbers, websites, e-mails and event or product details)
  • All support artwork is appropriately matched to the copy
  • No missing information

General Proofing Responsibilities

  • General spelling and grammar correct
  • Punctuation correct and consistent
  • Bulleted lists are consistent
  • Names and specialized terms were verified and accurate
  • Page numbers and table of content coincide and are accurate
  • Spacing before and after paragraphs, titles and subtitles is consistent
  • Font sizes for like elements are consistent
  • Messaging and design is consistent with corporate style/brand standards
  • Check all social media elements for proper functionality (i.e. hastags, links, QR codes etc.)