When you’re proofreading…

Services for Real Estate Pros with Marte Cliff Copywriting

When you proofread what you’ve written, you’re probably looking for mis-used or misspelled words, extra words, and typos. But don’t stop there…

Your purpose in proofreading is to remove all the “stop signs” thatproofread for grammar errors make readers think about your words, rather than your meaning.

Misplaced modifiers are huge stop signs, and they are all too common. Even professional writers sometimes forget to re-read their work to make sure it makes sense.

Here are examples I found just yesterday:

From an on-line article:

“The Police Department warned individuals to stay out of the area and then informed the public when the suspect was apprehended through social media.”

“The suspected shooter can be could be seen in this video boasting before he did it over social media:”

From those two sentences, the reader would think that the crime was committed over social media, and the suspect was apprehended through social media.

Simple changes would have made the sentences make sense:

“The police department used social media to warn individuals to stay out of the area and to inform them when the suspect was apprehended.”

“The suspected shooter could be seen in this video, boasting over social media before he did it.” (And yes – there was more proof that someone didn’t proofread: “can be could be.”)

From another article:

failed writing “Abrams however, has never even won a statewide contest casting doubt on her ability to help pull of a nationwide victory let alone run the White House in Biden’s absence, who is 77-years-old.”

Ugh. Obviously, absence is not 77 years old, but the whole sentence is so full of punctuation and spelling errors that it should just be scrapped. Start over with a better writer!

From a hard-bound novel:

"... a bad portrait swinging in the wind of his majesty."

The wind of his majesty? That’s a bit crude and rude.

The bottom line: Read what you wrote.

Proofread for errors, then read it again to make sure that your modifying words and phrases are placed where they belong.

If you need to re-write the sentence to make it make sense, do it!


Graphics courtesy of stuart miles at freedigitalphotos.net


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Steven Nickens
Elite Pacific Properties Maui - Wailea, HI
R(S)GRI ABR, Maui Real Estate Hawaii

Marte, grammar is not my strong point. Proof reading is mandatory.

May 24, 2020 05:00 AM #13
Michelle Enciso
Pikes Peak Dream Homes Realty - Colorado Springs, CO
Exceptional Service for Exceptional People

This is such an important topic. Whether writing texts and emails, posting a story on social media, writing up a contract, or posting a blog, I often see very simple errors that prove the writer is not proof reading- and this does include myself at times. I have confused and even offended people without intention all because I failed to proof read. Thank you for this reminder. 

May 24, 2020 05:49 AM #14
Nina Hollander
Coldwell Banker Realty - Charlotte, NC
Your Charlotte/Ballantyne/Waxhaw/Fort Mill Realtor

Good morning, Marte... another great post about how to properly proof read what one writes. We really do need to think about what we are commiting to "paper."

May 24, 2020 06:37 AM #15
Carol Williams
Although I'm retired, I love sharing my knowledge and learning from other real estate industry professionals. - Wenatchee, WA
Retired Agent / Broker / Property Manager

Hi Marte,
Lots of great tips here. I tend to edit while I write which isn't necessarily a good thing. I end up with some of those errors you described. I've started making a point of breaking long sentences into shorter sentences for clarity.  It helps. 

May 24, 2020 08:28 AM #16
Dorie Dillard CRS GRI ABR
Coldwell Banker United Realtors® ~ 512.750.6899 - Austin, TX
Serving Buyers & Sellers in NW Austin Real Estate

Good morning Marte Cliff ,

Of course your advice is spot on and makes such good sense on every level. Congratulations on the featured post..well deserved!

May 24, 2020 10:03 AM #17
Candice A. Donofrio
Next Wave RE Investments LLC Bullhead City AZ Commercial RE Broker - Fort Mohave, AZ
928-201-4BHC (4242) call/text

RIGHT, get past the 'words' and to the meat! 

You'd think PD and MSM would have better wordsmiths! 

Also 'extra words' . . . we know this from RE contracts. Less is more. And short, powerful sentences are clearer.

May 24, 2020 03:20 PM #18
Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Hi Marte:

Wise advice as always. I love the analogy of stop signs that could chase readers away because they aren't thinking about your meaning but your words.


May 24, 2020 07:53 PM #19
Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher

I’ve been there myself and continue to have to be really careful when I’m proofreading.

May 24, 2020 10:29 PM #20
Shirley Coomer
Keller Williams Realty Sonoran Living - Phoenix, AZ
Realtor, Keller Williams Realty, Phoenix Az

Proofreading and having someone else put eyes on your work (if available) is helpful.  Some folks think spell check is all they need.  Unfortunately, that just results incorrectly spelled words used incorrectly!

May 25, 2020 06:53 AM #21
Katina Hargrove 352-551-0308
Stake Your Land Realty, Inc. - Eustis, FL
Broker/Owner, GRI,SFR, REALTOR®

Good morning Marte Cliff,

Nice post, thanks for the reminder, enjoy your day.

May 25, 2020 07:00 AM #22
Scott Godzyk
Godzyk Real Estate Services - Manchester, NH
One of the Manchester NH's area Leading Agents

A lesson that goes back to my college writing classes. A great remnder for all. 

May 25, 2020 04:12 PM #23
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Debra Leisek - Yes, that one was just garbled from start to finish. Perhaps editors and proofreaders have fallen by the wayside in the big push to keep producing more and more "content."

Kat Palmiotti I think - once they stop zipping, you've lost them.

May 26, 2020 12:28 PM #24
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Steven Nickens Knowing that is half the battle - or perhaps all of it. Unfortunately, some of todays "professional" writers have the same problem but don't recognize it.

Michelle Enciso Confusing them is unfortunate - offending them is worse!

May 26, 2020 12:31 PM #25
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Nina Hollander When we know what we mean, it's easy to think someone else will know it too.

Carol Williams I've been using Yoast on my personal blog - and it reminds me ALL the time to shorten sentences.

Thank you Dorie Dillard CRS GRI ABR - I didn't even realize it was featured!

May 26, 2020 12:35 PM #26
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Candice A. Donofrio Perhaps the difference is that some writers are going for clarity and communication while others are going for word count.

Jeff Dowler, CRS Once someone is focused on the individual words, the flow of the message is lost.

May 26, 2020 12:38 PM #27
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Laura Cerrano I don't think the need to proofread ever goes away. We can ecome better and better writers, but since we're human, we'll still make mistakes.

Shirley Coomer I agree - relying on spell check is a danger to your credibility.

Scott Godzyk Do they still teach things like that in college? I sometimes wonder.

May 26, 2020 12:43 PM #28
Paula McDonald, Ph.D.
Beam & Branch Realty - Granbury, TX
Granbury, TX 936-203-0279

I boy do I hear you on this one! And, the spoken word has become even more butchered. I heard a so-called professional news person say, "He had went!" Yikes.

May 26, 2020 02:44 PM #29
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Paula McDonald, Ph.D. Ugh! That one is a definite Yikes!

May 27, 2020 08:13 PM #30
Dennis J. Zisa & Associates, Inc.
Dennis J. Zisa & Associates, Inc. - Camden, NJ
29 years in So. Jersey and the Greater Camden area

This is a great post, and I couldn't agree more! I usually do my proofreading out loud, as an added precaution. 

May 28, 2020 05:38 AM #31
Lyn Sims
RE/MAX Suburban - Schaumburg, IL
Schaumburg Real Estate

Great advice as always. Don't puff up the sentence to make it seem more forceful - it has the opposite effect (or affect?). Like Candice said, short & sweet is less confusing.

May 28, 2020 11:31 AM #32
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