When I was a cub copy editor, I learned a simple fact-checking technique that is still one of my favorite editorial standards today.
It may seem unimportant, but if you don’t use this technique and fail to catch a certain type of mistake, you could set yourself up for extra work later.
This is one of my favorites because it demonstrates that reviewing your copy and content for accuracy goes beyond checking for proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation.
Check for day/date discrepancies
I told you it’s simple.
Whenever you see a day of the week and a date in your text, check that the day of the week matches the date mentioned.
You might write a day and date when you announce and/or discuss in-person events, webinars, or live Q&As.
Here’s how it works
Let’s say you’re inviting your email subscribers to a webinar that will be held on Wednesday, December 29, 2016. You’ve edited and proofread the content already. It looks great … except, this year Wednesday is December 28.
If you send your content with “Wednesday, December 29, 2016” in the announcement, you could leave interested webinar attendees wondering if the webinar is Wednesday, December 28 or Thursday, December 29.
Since “Wednesday, December 29, 2016” doesn’t exist, your content is unclear without this type of fact-checking and could lead to inquiries from your audience.
When you get it right before you publish, you stop questions from confused prospects before they happen.
If your copy and content is accurate, there is no room for confusion. Readers won’t have any trouble understanding your message, and you won’t have to clarify later.
You’ll avoid having to notify your audience again with the correct information.
Tools you need
Content editors keep a calendar handy whenever they edit and proofread.
I like using a paper calendar, and I have one on my desk where I can easily see days of the week and dates for each month.
A digital calendar on your computer or phone works just as well.
The trick is to stop reading your content and check the calendar every time you get to a mention of a day of the week and a date.
Also, when you pause to verify the day/date, make sure you don’t skip the text around it. Carefully proofread the rest of the sentence too.
Starting January 1, 2017, remember to write “2017” instead of “2016.”
Copy editors are like kids in a candy store during the first month of the year when they spot and correct a lot of erroneous mentions of the previous year.
Don’t give them that satisfaction. 😉