A Case Study in Proofreading

Sometimes, the internet sends you a gift.

No, I’m not talking about Amazon.com. I’m talking about when you are hungry for the inspiration for your next blog post, and you stumble across something on the internet that is a big, juicy inspiration sandwich.

I subscribe to all sorts of newsletters related to philanthropy and nonprofit management, so I can share this information with people in my newsletter and with members of the Small & Mighty Membership Program. I recently came across the first sentence in a nonprofit management blog post that made me do a double-take. I don’t want to tell you which organization published this blog, and it’s possible that the error has been corrected by now. But I ask you to feast your eyes on this:

“There are two primary (and polar opposite) ways that nonprofit boards drive their chief executive’s nuts: disengagement and micro-management.”

I’m going to give you credit for having a mind that is not quite as in-the-gutter as my own. That said: read this sentence carefully. Due to the terribly unfortunate misuse of an apostrophe, they are suggesting something that no (male) nonprofit CEO should ever have to endure.

Proofreading matters.

Part of my trepidation in sharing this quote with you is that I’m sure there are careless errors in many of my own blog posts. No matter how much I proofread, some mistakes always slip through. However, I can offer you some of my proofreading tips, along with a collective prayer that none of us publish blog posts or public documents with this kind of error!

  1. Read it out loud.
  2. Walk away from it, and don’t proofread it for a few hours, or a day.
  3. Print it out – sometimes you can see things on paper that you cannot see on a screen. A related tip: print it in a different font! I don’t know why, but this works.
  4. Have a friend or colleague read it. It’s especially helpful if that friend or colleague is not directly involved in your work.


Here’s hoping that all of our silly writing errors don’t drive us “nuts”!

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