The following sentence was included in a recent email advertising a seminar: Don't spend another day struggling to write business documents with that are on target, on topic, and on deadline.
Can you find a mistake in the italicized sentence? Would a gaffe affect your decision to sign up for the class? It would certainly affect some. It is unprofessional and potentially costly to have mistakes in your documents.
In my writing classes, I teach the following four tips to catch errors:
Read your message out loud. If you read the words slowly, you will often hear any mistakes. Try it out on the above italicized sentence. Reading out loud also helps with the tone of your writing. If it sounds harsh to you, it will sound harsh to the reader.
Always look for one. This means that when you are proofing your writing, keep looking until you find an error. And if you don’t find one, keep looking until you do. It’s easy to miss an error unless you have a strategy for finding one.
Have someone else proof your writing. It is easier for other people to catch your mistakes, as they read what you've written with fresh eyes.
Add the email address last. You don’t want to send an email before you have finished writing and proofing the message. Even when you are replying to a message, it’s a good precaution to delete the recipient’s name, and insert it only when you are sure the message is ready to be sent.
Additional information on writing can be found in my book When The Little Things Count…And They Always Count.
PS: The error in the italicized sentence? The word "with" should have been deleted.