Guidance on how to proofread legal and business documents effectively
with John Trimbos
Proofreading is an essential part of the drafting process and attention to detail is crucial; Incorrect wording or punctuation can completely change the content of a written document and allow it’s meaning to become open to interpretation.
Whether you are a legal secretary whose been asked to read through document on someone else’s behalf, or are a legal practitioner reviewing your own work, it is essential that you have the knowledge and skills needed to proofread effectively.
Delivered by former solicitor and training consultant, John Trimbos, this practical 60-minute webinar is broken-down into the following sections:
Part 1 covers the basic principles of proofreading and is largely focussed on grammar and spelling. Viewers will be encouraged to attempt some introductory exercises which will reinforce key business writing conventions.
Part 2 will provide viewers with an overview of the techniques which are required when proofreading and the problem areas to look out for. Viewers will need to implement this guidance when attempting more challenging exercises.
Whether you are new to proofreading or are looking to refresh or hone your proofreading skills, this course is ideal and will ensure that you have the knowledge, skills and confidence needed to proofread legal and business documents for spelling, grammar, inconsistencies, punctuation errors, formatting mistakes, and typos.
Hello, My name is John Trim, Boss Ends. I'm a solicitor by background. I practiced as planning an environmental lawyer for about 10 years until I changed career on. Now run my in training consultancy, and this is part one of the two part program, all about proof reading skills. So Session one will look at some basic proof freakin techniques and go through a couple of introductory exercises with you. Part two will follow on with some more challenging exercises in terms of some learning outcomes. Well, with any luck, at the end of this module, you'll be able to pre freed league business documents by comparing passages of text and figures and marking of differences. A pro producer of dictionaries to identify commonly misspelled words identifying correct missing off surplus punctuation marks, areas of consistency, grammatical presentational areas and how to rectify things has consistently in this as well as possible. So we're going to start off with a little starter exercise for you now and well, I'll read this through on. You can follow it on the screen, probably in doing so. There is certainly one Arab that you will pick up, which nobody effort is when I first dropped this little exercise. I originally drew this up as a fictional one page letter as a word document. Maura's the marketings who than anything else, and I e mailed it to every training manager and lawyer. That's on you in the city. And I said proof, Read this, email me back with the necessary amendments. And there was certainly one sneaky little era that nobody spotted on the computer screen at all just by reading it through. But I suspect you will spot it now anyway. Let me read it through. You follow it through this. I read it out here and grab a note pad, are opposed to note or something, and just chopped down. Just making news off everything that is Roman that requires rectification. So it starts. Dear Mr Fictional Client contract drafting. Thank you for your inquiry about our contract drafting capabilities. We are continually contacted by clients for certain services, and we always ensure that they are treated to the highest levels of service. We're always very careful to advise you of all the necessary legal implications. You should also be aware that there are discrete processes to follow in the various jurisdictions that you have mentioned. Any overseas lawyers instructed by us will have the relevance license to practice in that country. The Lord is never stationary. It is always developing and changing. The agreements between the parties must be re bust to stand the test of time. We are always vigilant for changes in the law. We never become disinterested yours faithfully and then the name or the name. Okay, so then, well, count up the number of errors that you have spotted ends. In my humble opinion, there are actually 14. So let's click through and have a look. Write some of this stuff is grammatical and spelling. I suppose some of this stuff is more like business conventions. Sebastian is the First Amendment that I have made here. So the original that I showed you said, thank you for your inquiry with my and I've changed that to thank you for your inquiry with E. Uh, technically, inquiry into inquiry are interchangeable in the Oxford English Dictionary, but the business writing convention is that inquiry with an eye is more appropriate for our public investigations, like a public inquiry into a road or an airport or police enquiries into a crime or something. Inquiry with me, though, is more appropriate for people for individuals. So if you're writing to prospective climbs, you really would write Thank you for your inquiry with E. Then the 2nd 1 which is the one that everybody missed. A za word documents, but you probably have spotted is that it is our contracts drafting capabilities, whereas in the original it said out of beauty contractor, often capabilities, and it was very, very instructive that nobody ever actually spotted on the computer screen. And that is some That is a very basic point, but you are always more accurate in hard copy. So if you print something out particularly sneaky little words like this, you will tend to spot summers. If you're looking at him on the computer screen because you probably get eyestrain more quickly and so on, then you don't when you don't have to spot these things, and sometimes they can be liquids and a bit embarrassing. Sometimes that can be dangerous. A very good friend of mine is a pensions lawyer in the city, and he told me a really horror story on, he said, Thank God we spotted this because he was feeding the pensions bits into a corporate deal and the relevant line should have said in this document. Should have said this shed yule shall not apply where certain events happened. Unfortunately, somebody had times by mistake This shed yule shall now apply with this happens which does kind of changed the wording I mean, totally so that could have been in existence case. So watch out for small words Nextera we are continually rather than continuously contacted by plants for such services continually describes general situations, causes and intermissions, whereas continuously means literally all the time without ever stopping and you're not literally contacted every second of the day clients and then it is we ensure that they are treated to the highest levels of service rather than ensure if you ensure you provide a policy of insurance whereas we make sure we ensure that they're treated to the highest levels off service. Second paragraph is we are always careful to advise you with an s is not advice advice with the seas now, whereas advising UK spelling is the verb to advise you of all the necessary legal implications of the next one is in the middle line, which is you should also be aware that there are discrete processes and discreet in this context should be spelled D I s c r e Where is in the original? It was spokes d I c r e t eso somebody who's discreet as untrustworthy and won't go blabbing secrets around the place. That is a team but discreet in this context, as in separate Should be tea, not booty. That is a very nasty little one, actually, that is correct. And then in the final line of that paragraph, any overseas lawyers instructed by possible have the relevant license with the sea and then practice within S, whereas in the originally was the other way round. So Oakley enough. That's probably why the content of this lecture is so nonsensical. But advice, advice, license and practice all followed the same rule. Advice and advice That's easy because they're pronounced differently. But license with the see that's he's a now it is the things the pink photo carb thing in your pocket is your driving license, whereas if you are licensed to use Microsoft Word or James Bond is a license to kill that spelled with s. And then in this letter here, practice to practice. That's the verbs that takes. Yes. Whereas if you spelled practice with the sea that it's announced. So you would rather we have a very strong litigation practice in this office or something like that. That would be See, that's now. But to practice takes an s now in American English, which Microsoft Word sometimes favors, they spell advice than the noun with s so obviously have to revert back. And then in American English, license is always spelled with an s, and there are certain other words, like offense and defense, which they spelled with an S. And we spelled with a C. But practice in American English is always spelled with a C in logically. But then a languages do illogical things, right. Paragraph three of the law is never stationary within a as in standing. Still, it's was developing and changing in the original, I rode stationary with the if in doubt, I'm sure you know the difference, But if endows if you have a blood panic moments just remember letters, pens and envelopes. A station name with those words stationary. The next one is it is the agreements between the parties rather than pensees, which I'm sure you're spotted. But of course, spell checker will not spot these things embarrassing. There they are. If it is still a a proper word making the wrong word. So the proper words and then the last one in within the paragraphs is it should say we never become an uninterested rather than disinterested other interest, it means board and lacking an interest. Disinterested is toast Lee Difference in meaning somebody who is disinterested is unbiased or impartial without prejudices. So a Judge Warren arbitrator needs to be disinterested as he mustn't have an interest in one side of the other. But uninterested means boards lacking an interest. And if people talk about disinterested observers at a meeting or a conference or something, that means neutral observed no, maybe, and then topping and tailing it probably spotted the 1st 1 Actually, it is Dear Mr So and so where is the original? I put dead Mr So and so somebody once did that to me. Actually make me feel a little bit uneasy and then tailing it. Yours does not have an apostrophe in it and it should be yours sincerely and and not yours faithfully, which a lot of people do, miss. But again, it's a convention rather than strictly right or wrong. So if you start a letter with the name Dear Mr So So so then you end your sincerely. If, however, you start the letter, dear sir or dear serves or anything you know anything not including a name, then you should end it with with yours faithfully so that I think, makes up for 14 errors there. But the great thing, of course, is that none of this appears as an era in Microsoft Word. If you look at this as a word document, there is no red underlining. There is no green underlining. It also have to overall the electronic tools. Run it. Venator's warned. You are. So now we're going to do a slightly harder introductory freaking quiz. I will read through these. We have five questions on this page, and then we have five on the next page just to test your knowledge off grammar and punctuation and spelling. And so so question on the warm. This is a multiple choice quiz, of course, and for some of these are would accept to possible writers. But another case It went, Rice number one reads. The marketing director returns to her office. She had forgotten the agenda for the meeting. We have three options here. Option one is to answer conjunctions linking word like because our sense Option two is to replace the comma with a semi colon. If you feel based adventurous and Option three is no, leave it alone. Absolutely fine as it is. So making notes. What is your preferred option? A. PLC question. Number two is each of the programas either hairs or have 10 years of service with the organization. Number three Mr McCann, capable and qualified supervisor is the candidates A Who will be who. Most of the employees support Number four is. The secretary prepared the report, and it was distributed to the officers. We have four options here, all about placing of commerce. So a B and C put commerce in different places is no. Leave it alone. It's finds it is. And then finally, on this page Number five. Why did you not mark this perfect? We have a with quotation marks. Question mark outside. Be quotation marks. Question mark inside or seen. That's absolutely fine cities. Okay, Uh, for the 1st 1 I would accept either either a or B Commerz are very weak in the English language. So if you have two verbs to actions in the sentence, then a calmer on its own is really not strong enough to connect the two verbs to actions so you can have a comma, their support of breath, absolutely fine butting. It doesn't really stand up on its own. So you then need to beef it up. You need to strengthen it with a conjunction, like because Or since I would accept be because the semi code on these records be about halfway and strength between calmer and a full stop. And so because it's that my strong career can connect to verbs on his own. Another Assisi do that. So either if I throw a or B, which one you prefer? Question of the two rather illogically is. Each of the programmers has a 10 or more years of service. There are certain trigger words in the English language that always takes a singular verb. They are basically each every everyone and everybody's somebody and someone nobody and no one. So it is like you would say, for example, everybody balls presence for the meeting or for the presentation. You wouldn't say everybody were present. It's everybody wants present. So in this case, we're saying like each one, everyone has 10 more years of service. So those trigger words take singular number three. The answer is a Who and the grammatical rules that goes with this is that who goes with an actor So the person who does something, whereas whom goes with the objects of the objects being the person who receives the action in the sentence. So if, for example, you are recruiting somebody for the office, then you would write of the new assistant who starts next week has excellent references because in that case it is the the new assistant who is doing is acting because he or she is starting next week, whereas a different sentence would take whom. So if instead I wrote the assistant whom I interviewed can start next week, then it is definitely whom, because the actor is me on the interviewer. I give the interview to this person. Therefore he or she receives the action in the sentence and take whom and in this case if you look at the back end of sentence number three, Mr McCann is the candidate whom, with the name most of the employees support because in the back end of a sentence, the employees are this courses they give their support, Mr McCann. Therefore, he receives the support and takes who I hope that makes sense. Now there's a neat little trick with whom which always gives you the right answer. So what you need to do is you met the family in her doesn't help us, but masculine word him does. So whatever the sentences in mentioned, the person is male. And just ask yourself, Would you say he would you say him? So, for example, a century outside Buckingham Palace would say holds who goes there? Because you would say he goes there goes there. But you sometimes see a rather old fashioned introductions letters to whom it may concern. And you would say it concerns him or it concerns them. And if you look at this sentence, number three again, Mr McCann is the candidate who most of the employees support because you would say they support him. They're not. They support. He they support him. So that is the trick. Just look at the sentence and asked, Would you say he? Would you say him? And if you would say him, then you should write who followed the letter in number four? I would accept either B or D. Generally think of the coma as the recent equivalent pulls a graph, and it's largely optional. And in this case, I may not bother. Actually, I'll probably leave this. It is. The secretary prepared the report, and it was distributed to the offices. But if you listen to the way that I say it, I do pause after report and just think, How would you say a sentence if you would naturally pulls of breath? Then you can put in a comma justice a little age readability if you think it helps. The reader in this case like us, said, I'd probably leave it as it is. Bus, you know, if it's ah longer sentence. If it said, the secretary prepared the extremely long, complex report and it was distributed to the officers who were based in various countries around the world, that one Yeah, I probably would put in a comma Justus, a little bulls breath. And just in case you're wondering, yes, you can put a comma before EMS, the common you don't put before and is the Oxford comma, which appears in lists of things. So if you write, we ran out of stationery and we bought books. Comma pens, comma pencils, comma rubbers and rulers. You don't put a comma before the EMS. They're just in the least, but in the middle of a sentence is absolutely fine. And then the last one on this page, Why did you know to mark this private? Well, it really should be a. We generally use quotation marks for reported speech. But in this case, like if you imagine this is a watermark on a document, private or private and confidential, then you really should put whatever you want. Watermarked being within quotation marks. And because we're asking the question, then question Mark goes outside. Russia hit. That makes sense, Right. Number six. Now on this page, the disinterested or uninterested employees managed to lose stroke. Loosely important. Report number seven. It's all about capital letters. Last Friday, he resigned from the job he's had throughout the autumn and moved to East Anglia three options there. Number 80 spellchecker beginning tomorrow will guarantee that all equipment be enforced, shipped immediately. So how many words are misspelled? Number nine Joanna went to the meeting with them. Baran's on me and then finally, which principle of the local colleges just rebelling A Or B? And the answers are, well, it is untrue. We will have spotted this now. The uninterested employees managed to news with one of the important report. Loose, of course, is an adjective. You know, my belt is loose now, or something in my class but loses the vote, so it is definitely being dis interested. And blues number seven Now autumn are always is always lower case seasons of the year, our rum, ordinary mounds so they should stay low Case is definitely not see and you're East Anglia, whether it's the name, so it should be being there because Eastern doing here, both parts of the name number eight of the misspelled words or guarantee that only has one. Our equipment does not have a T in the middle of it shipped needs to peace into media sleep needs, and after the D spellchecker would pick those up to be fair. But of course, bear in mind. Walkers spell Checker doesn't number nine. Joanna went to the meeting with amber ends. Trick here is just get rid of the second person. So get rid of Amber. And what would you say? Joe? Jonah went to meeting with me. I is the subject. I went to the meeting Joanna and on went to the meeting. Me is the old James. Come with me to the meeting. You wouldn't say. Come with you. Say come with me to the meeting now. So she went to a meeting with me with Amber and me. And then finally number 10 inches. The 2nd 1 be principle into the head chief of something principle with nearly is a concept or a theory. And that, of course, is a classic example of where spellchecker would not help. You do need to know the meanings of these words because both principles are proper words. They don't necessarily correct some techniques basically printed off When If you can, people are always more Acura's in hard copy. So print off whenever necessary. If it's very, very complex or very bitty like a financial shed. Your comparing one against another do it with somebody else. You know, one person can read through the marks up, copy on stating what the amendments are, and then the second person can check the corrected copy to make sure that all the correct amendments have have gone through. And, well, sometimes you might be traveling, for example, and you're not able to print off documents. So if you do have to pre freed from a computer screen, blow up the text as much as you possibly can and give your eyes lots of opportunity to rest. Because you do get eyestrain when you're reading consistently proof reading and the general views that you can keep going for a good 10 to 15 minutes in hard copy without experiencing significant lies straight. Whereas if you're looking at a computer screen, you tend to get on a straight after more like 5 to 10 minutes, and in that case, what you needs to his rest your eyes and the best way to do that is to focus on a distant object. So if you're proof reading your focusing on something, the advice and look out the window just half a minute also, it relaxes your your eye muscles, which are muscles genuine. They and then do it in short bursts. More haste, less speed. Quite frankly, some danger zones, beginnings and endings of lines where for some reason, the concentration tends to lapse, improper Nam's place names and so on. Long words. Bottom of the page again, When you lose focus numbers, I mean double check, cross referencing and sequencing of numbers, and so on. Titles and headings, of course. Tired. A lot of people, they proof, reads the main body of the text the paragraphs. And just forget to look at titles and headings, and there may be errors there. Names, of course, can be spelled different ways of the name Stephen could be spelled with your pH. Company names are often slightly older, especially artificial ones, and then inconsistencies over spellings because you have to get certain words could be spelled different ways and capital letters. So, for example, with a title with within an organisation like partner in law, firm or director in the company, you can either capitalize it or not, as the case may be so in a pitch document. If you write, so so is the park or in charge of the real estate group. You can capitalize it. You can eat that. No case you have to choose. But of course you have to be consistent about it. More problem areas. Doubling of small words, doubling letters, substitution trance positions and missions of closing quotation marks or bracket. So her embassies and so on. Prefixes and suffixes, missing numbers and sequences. And so, yeah, they're just very bitty, very awkward. So again, I would say more haste, less speed, and to finish off part one of this weapon, we're now going to do a little exercise, all apostrophes. And this is something that's nor firms and other organizations organizations. Uh, I asked me to do an awful loss, actually, because a lot of people have issues with apostrophes, and certainly I was running an in house course yesterday was in House Legal Team PLC, and somebody actually said, I've always avoided using apostrophes. Never really know how to use them. So this will be a crash course in how to use apostrophes. So what's upset is at possession to each of these phrases. Okay, so how would you say the briefcase off? Richard with an apostrophe? Probably in s that the leaves off the shops, the onlookers test Imeri testimony the testament of the onlookers, investors, objectives, the pay claims off the union, the rulings of the judges, the room with the twins, etcetera. So take your notebook and just notes down while I'm talking. Now how we would have had possession Teoh each of these and then with a suitably dramatic pools. Some of these two pencil. How many people there are. So the general rule is that if there is one owner, then the apostrophe goes before. Yes. If there is more than one, Thanet jumps a place on, it goes after the s be any exceptions. That is, if you have one of those exceptional florals that doesn't take. It s like Children, in which case it's still apostrophe s. But that is totally anomalous. Okay, so the answers are Richards briefcase. Where there's anyone reaches it is Richard Apostrophe s briefcase. Now, the next few were actually a bit tricky. It depends on how many how many things there are. So, for example, it would be the shrubs. Leaves goes after the s. If it's described in the whole garden. If you've got a whole garden for the shrubs. But if you've got just like passing, we're gonna shrub. Only then it would go before the s Similarly number two. The onlookers testimony Apostrophe s if estrus wanna knock up. But of course, there could be several people, in which case it jumps. Yes, investors, objectives. If you've got more than one investor that it goes after, Yes, but of course, you could just have one investor into business. Start up. So in that case, it goes before the S unions pay claims. Same thing applies. So if you've got one union with two different pain claims for two different departments, then it is in apostrophe s. But if you've got two distinct unions and each union has its own separate claim for its different memberships, then it jumps a place again. Court of appeal. If there's three judges or more than it goes after the S. But if it's a high court judge than it is Judge Apostrophe s rulings and number seven, we imagine that between the sharing rooms In that case, it would almost certainly be to be asked. But you can see that apostrophes in particular are are quite tricky. Actually, because depending on where you where you put it. If you actually this time, then you would say to the reader that there is one union or one investor rather than two both the other way around. So a lot of punctuation areas just look a bit sloppy apostrophes in particular. This is probably why I get asked do apostrophe exercises because misplaced or missing apostrophe can actually distort the whole meaning of a sentence. So that is Theo. End of part one, Of course, which I think you're found informative and enjoyable is probably a strong word. If you have, then I shall look forward to seeing you for proof reading webinar past two. In the meantime, thank you for watching and
Hello, My name is John Trim, boss, and welcome to proof reading Part two. So in proof reading, Part One, which I imagine probably watched, if you're looking at this, then we looked at some basic principles for effective proof reading. And then we did some introductory exercises, based largely around grammar and spelling, but also highlighting a couple of business writing conventions like, for example, how to spell inquiry or inquiry in context and use of capital letters to describe titles within organisations and things like that. So this session is now a follow on that will look at things in a in a slightly more advanced way. So we will click through to something that, uh, amused me a few years ago. But just to remind you of the learning outcomes eso. The idea is that you should be able to pre freed legal business documents by comparing passages knowing went to consult a dictionary, identify incorrect missing or surplus punctuation marks, and we looked at apostrophes in particular in part one. But also placing of commerce identified errors of consistencies in different times, spellings or capitalization or not, as the case may be, grammatical errors of agreements in complex sense and structures will look at more of that today actually identified presentation errors and directed identified errors so onwards and upwards, as they say this'll. Somebody showed this to me years ago and I can't honestly remember who. But this is a fictional letter to somebody who, coincidentally, is called John. But it was not intended for me. And you will see from this slide and the next lies that both versions of the latter contained exactly the same words on ent in exactly the same order. That's the punctuation is different. Punctuation marks have been moved around and it totally changes the meaning of the letter. So this is a dear John letter part one. It's thesis, the nice letter. This is a letter that conveys warmth and affection. So it goes, Dear job, I want a man who knows what love is all about. You are generous, kind, thoughtful people who are not like you admit to being useless and inferior. You have ruined me for other men. I yearn for you. I have no feelings. What? So over when we're apart, I could be forever happy. Will you let me be yours? Julian? That's Nice, isn't it? I mean, to be honest Noticias effort recently a lesser or indeed an email or a text. This is even remotely resemble us. But it would be nice if something has this one. Those is very different. And you will see that it's got the same words in the same order. But the punctuation has been changed and moved around. So this one is not so much. Dear John, I want a man who knows what love is all about. You are generous, kind, thoughtful people who are not like you and meat to being useless and inferior. You have ruined me for other men. I knew for you. I have no feelings whatsoever. When were opposed, I could be forever happy. Will you let me be yours, Jr? Yes, Not so nice. Nobody's ever written me anything quite like that's actually to be fair as wells, that is quite a quite a blessing. Now that is obviously very tongue in cheek. But you can see how moving punctuation around changing punctuation can have profoundly changed the meaning of the passage of writing. But you know, more seriously in excess. In part one, the exercise we did about apostrophes, the apostrophe going before or after the S does fundamentally change the meaning of the sentence. Now, that was obviously not entirely dreams. Life. This is a good example, though this really shows you have to watch out for placing of commerce in in particular. So in part one, we focused on the apostrophe. Now we're going to focus on the placing off the comma because commerce in English are largely discretionary. And putting in a coma or north, as the case may be, can actually have quite a profound effects on the on the interpretation of the sentence. Now, what is in front of you now is a contract laws. This is version one. It's very wordy. I would personally split it up into two sentences, actually, uh, well, come onto that. But if you throw this into a room full of lawyers the way that it's punch waiting now, thank you. You will always tend to get a space opinion. So at the moment it goes, the agents shall be entitled to commission at the rate of 15% of the commission received by the agency on all transactions concluded by the agent, which actually complete last. The agent is in the employment of the agency. Now the question which I often lob into a room full of people, is Well, have a look at this. And then I say, imagine that you are the agents. So the agency's you. You conclude the negotiations off deals and negotiate a deal. But then you get head, hums it, and you leave you resign, you leave, you start a new job somewhere else. And after you started your new job, that's last deal that you negotiated finally completes. So then completion takes place in the formal legal sense. But you've now gone. So the question then is, Are you as the agents are, you entitles your 15% commission on that last deal. And generally, if you throw that into a room full of lawyers, you'll tend to get a split opinion. Most people say no, but a significant minority say yes, you can get your 15% because if you look at this version two now, in the minds of many readers, if you send which phrase between two commerce banter is exactly the same airs for what's on the screen in front now to parentheses like that eso the agent gets commission. That's the rate of 15% commission received by the agency on all transactions concluded by the agent, which actually complete whilst the agent is in the employment of the agency. If you read the two commas is performing exactly that function that you can see on the screen now, then I would say there's an arguable case to say Yes, you can get your 15% because we change Lee complete. It's like a standalone, overarching idea, you know it's not, you know, as long as it completes whenever it completes, then you you are entitled to your 15% commission. Now let's imagine his part. Three. Let's imagine that we dictated times out version one, and then we look back it it's pretty freed and we thought, Oh, no, actually, that's that's wrong. We didn't mean that a part of that. That second comma there was type we didn't mean that. So we take it out now, look at the sentence again. The agent shall be entitled to commission a rate 15% commission received by the agency on all transactions concluded by the agents comma pause, which actually complete whilst the agents in the employment of the agency. So if there is no second comma, then if you ask a room full of lawyers, can you get your 15% commission on the basis that you've negotiated? But then you leave. He resigned. Then you leave before formal completion takes place. Then the unanimous answer tends to be No, you can't, because without the second comma there, if there is nothing at all after word complete, then it finishes which actually complete wealthy agents in the employment of the agency. So without the second comma, completion must take place when you're still in the employment of the agency. But of course, you know, because you've left and started a new job somewhere else. So that sent second common totally throws the castle. And among the pigeons it completely destroys the clarity of that. Santon's eso you have the world part three that you've got in front of you. If you do mean what he says. They're just about works personally. If I were drafting this is a contract laws. I'm I would split it up into two actually, So I would have sentence one. The agent shall be entitled to commission a rate of 15% commission received by the agency on all transactions completed by the agents. And then I would actually put in a full stop. And then in a second separate sentence, I would jump one way or another on the second issue. So sentenced to would either say completion must take place while the agencies in the employment of the agency, if that's what you actually mean or the version two would be completion must take place within six months of the agent leaving the agency which have will jump on that second issue. So treat commerce with extreme caution, quite frankly so. In part one, we also looks ants, grammatical issues and we looked and spelling some things like that. So here is the essential checklist. So sentence structure. We looked at the sentence there, and depending on whether or not that was the second comma, then you know, it could mean one or two different things. Grammar, obviously I mean everything that you write in business must be a proper grammatical sentence, or it's potentially not gonna make sense. Punctuation, commas and apostrophes in particular make sure that they are comprehensively uncertainties. And in the right place spelling and usage. Of course. Now Spellchecker does pick up Maced spelling typos, I suppose. But of course, bearing minds, all the stuff we looked at in part one because there are certain words like principal, discreet, an inquiry and so on, which showed can be spelt in in different ways and have different meanings. And they are all proper words. But they are. They may not necessarily be the right words. Spell Checker is very limited. Use their capitalisation well in contracts in legal documents. If something is capitalized, as it defined term, then of course it has a special meaning within the document. And then it has to be capitalized consistently. But also, as we saw in part one, titles within organizations like director or partner. They could be capitalized or not, as the case may be in the same applies to department names you can choose. You can upper case the more lower case that they're both acceptable, but you have to choose. You have to be consistent about it, numbering and tabulation, anything of a numerical nature being cross referencing or number sequencing, close numbering, so just double check it quite different. Double check it just to be on the safe side. Say, if you're saying that something is subject to another close for another document or something, make sure the cross references correct. They have been negligence cases against law firms arising out of misplaced decimal points in a number of things like that. So double check anything of American nature and consistency generally because, of course, some words can't be spelled different ways. I mean, generally, anybody watching this program, I imagine you're going to be using UK English spellings. I do a lot of work with a couple of transatlantic law, mainly for their mountain offices. I'm certainly one of them. They have started this. If a document is to be read purely within Europe, then they use UK spellings. But if it's going to be read father of fields like in America or possibly Asia, then they use American in your spelling, so their staff have to know both versions of words. And of course you have to choose. You have to be consistent about it. Just as an example, though, about how language changes and develops all the time. Traditionally, in this country in this country, we have always felt advise legal adviser with PR, and in America, they always favorite advise or with an O. R. But I see I see base in this country or all the time. I know for a fact that City University here in London at the careers advisers, the nameplates on door says it finds Rs. If you look at the name plates outside firms of transferred and said, my accountants, very often you see chartered accountants and tax advisers will. Half the name plates are, er half the nameplates. Soas faras on concerns both spellings of Advisor are equally Palatine English because language does change into available time. But of course you have to choose. You have to choose and you have to be consistent hidden horrors, which we looked at heart one. But I'm just going to go repeat them because they are so important. So small words doubled up letters, substitution of little little letters on so you go to work on transposition of words, letters, closing quotation marks, prefixes, suffixes, numbering and so on. The's tend to be were all the most niggly Little Horror's Tim said to my hidden. So double check for those and then a bit of extra advice. Really Old technique, Really, Which is? Well, no one. Make the text strange to yourself, as they say, Try and put some distance between the text and you because what I'm sure you have found, actually in practice is that if you're the author of a document, you've actually compose something very often. You see what you wanna see rather than Morty of actually time, So get niggly little errors or inconsistencies or something. You tend to miss those because you consider with trees and yeah, sometimes it may be worth getting somebody. Disinterest is to to have a look. Look at it with fresh I. But if you don't have that luxury, then puts a distance yourself from the tax idea. Leave it over night. Look at it early in the morning with a fresh eye, or even if you just can go away, get a cup of tea, stretch your legs a bit to go back with fresh. I then do to him to see these things that you wouldn't have seen before. If you're proof reading in a document, particularly a lengthy document, read it aloud, actually set. Say it's yourself and also where it is often reckoned to be good. If you actually touch the page with your finger with your pen, just go on your every word. Just say the word soft into yourself. So you'll remember from part one horror story that I told you about my pensions law friends Once it's a sentence to say this shed yule shall not apply in certain circumstances. What was time was this schedule show now applying with not supply. So if you have to proof read on your own, say the words to yourself, and if you find yourself so not instead of now you know there's something wrong. Definitely read slowly and concentrates more haste, less speed to try and find a quiet place. Actually, if you're in a busy open plan office where there are lots of distractions, see if you can find a spare conference room, for example, or quiet space like just tell people that you're not going to be a disturbance in the next half hour or hour or however long it's going to take. The world is not going away. If you go off the radar offering general, too, check headings which love people. Just forget to do. Check the numbering system. Check for so called widows and orphans. The widow is a heading or subheading right down the bottom of the page, with nothing under it profoundly silly. And then the orphans of the text on the next page. So pushing the page break bounced the next page. Use understandable marks for secretaries when you're marking up documents in in hard copy ends, it is customary to double space draft documents because they're easier tomorrow cup with a pen, but also easier for secretarial staff to read and interpret what you're trying Teoh do the amendments you're trying to make. Check all the boiler plating stuff, the standard form stuff that you tend to get into a lot of a lot of standard form contracts. Very often the emphasis stones and words it, but there will be alternatives that you have to be confused. So, for example, if there is an alternative dispute resolution clause, then you might have to choose between a mediation or an arbitration or something like that. So you got a knockout one shoes the other, although maybe blanks, like if there is a notice clause oppresses for services of former notices from one party to another when you've got a fillip dresses and things like that. And certainly I heard one experience a major national, often told that they had actually completed it a transaction. And the next morning somebody just noticed that nobody had proofread the boiler placing stuff. There are all these on ticked options, blanks and things like that. The whole thing was potentially avoidable for uncertainty. So they have to go back to clients on the other side and say, Sorry, we rectify the documents, which is starkly embarrassing us for numbering read aloud digit by digit. And also a lot of people find that if you take a ruler or some kind of flat edge and they place it on the paper, then they just push it down like a line by line that helps them to slow down to concentrate. A lot of people feel very nervous or self conscious about that kind of thing because they think it looks a bit naughty. But just don't worry, you know, if it works for you and there is absolutely fine, I have no compunction about that open plan office whatsoever to ensure accuracy right, we have covered all of the principles. This is a horrible test. Nobody, in my experience in face to face sessions has ever gotten is entirely right. So if you miss some stuff, do not be too hard on yourself. But if you do spot the majority of these things, then I reckon you doing pretty well. So this is the first rough test text, which is full of errors. I'm going to read it through fairly slowly. You grab it and Notre alot of the errors and there are typing errors. There are spell spending errors. There's punctuation issues are there's consistency issues and a couple of business writing conventions as well, which one of which I have mentioned. I think you should knows you says the world body into this test. Okay, so take a deep breath. Management wants to introduce new measures to combat the noticeable increase in sick leave. The average annual number of sick days has risen from 5 to 10 which has seen us a considerable embarrassment to new HR director. But I wonder if the responsibility should late toast with her. And even if management does agree whose responsibility the problem is, they also have a separate and justified concern that any action taken should be carefully considered. Meanwhile, although the employees are hoping for decent pay rise, it's likely that they're going to be disappointed. The CEO Oh's arguments is that they got one last year and there's been no corresponding improvement in performance, so he's not prepared to consider it on the rise, he said. The pay Ross has had the opposite effect. People have become more lethargic since we started paying more. However, other board directors might feel that higher pay will accelerate performance well, that will take time. Whatever happens with regards to pay rises, principal pose here is that it's time to board announced its decision. The uncertainty is affecting soft Moreau less people than expected. A supporting company events is there's a general feeling that the responsibility for making these events a success is no okay, I'm sure you will have Sports is more than half of the areas. Some of them are pretty obvious. But some of them notes. Actually, there are some little little stinkers here. So anyway, let's let's have a look. This is the corrected version like us says, if you don't spot absolutely everything. Don't be too hard on yourself. Starting at the top, management wants to introduce new measures to converse, the noticeable with the increase in sickly. So it's a soft see there, isn't he, after see Noticeable? A spelling error, which actually spell check would pick up. Now moving on to citizens to the average annual number of sick days has risen from 5 to 10. Which puts us a word and then a coma because it is quite a long sentence, and I think it really does help the charity there Comma, which is seen as a considerable embarrassment. With two hours to the new HR director, cable pulls there 5 to 10. The General Convention for Numbering in Business is that numbers 1 to 10 you writers words 11 and above you. Writers figures 11 would be 11 Now it's offending loose convention. So, for example, if you and you can break this so if you're starting a sentence with a number like if the sentence started, 20 companies will be involved in a merger. I would write 20 Yes, sir. As the words North 20 and also time. If a clock is understood. So we're going at five. We're going 12. Drive those words, but that also there are certain things that I would always write his numbers, like close numbering, section numbers, remix apartments, dates and times. So So So it's a fairly loose convention, and you can break it. How about I would write 10 words here? Then we have a coma than embarrassment. Has two Hours HR director. If that is her title, which I imagine it is that you can jump one way or the other on capital, there's capitalization. You can capitalize the day of director, or you can leave it in case they are both acceptable. But you have to choose, and you have to have to be consistent. Now this next sentence things may shock you, but according Teoh, the Oxford University Press grammar guarding his perfect acceptable to start a sentence with but and indeed the world. And there is no grammatical reason against it, which may shock you. You may decide it's a bit journalistic appropriate for business documents. Anyway, there's nothing wrong. No, it should be other. I wonder if the responsibility should nae chastely with her, and then it ends with a full stop because that really is the statements, I wonder, wondering if lies you know where to something lie. Lay is owning up what you do to something else, and you're not laying responsibility or somebody else. So lay is when you do something to somebody else, likely the table or if they're refit office, they made flooring. If you'll say where does something lie? Or if you need to go in my doubt, what you do to yourself, it is late. No next sentence is a tricky one, because there is another couple of issues, but there is a business writing convention here. It starts even if management does agree whose spelled W H. O. C. Responsibility. The problem is now, it should say it also has a separate justified concern because there is a convention in business writing that collective entities like the management or the board or committee or the partnership or the organization should always be treated as a singular end as well. So, the previous version of the letter said, even if management does agree so on, they also have several justified concerned. And that's wrong. It's not. They tease each. You're treating the management as a collective instigating as well. And you would also in business documents, rides the committee or the board passed its resolution last night, not their resolution. I know there are lots of people on the committee or in the management, but it is a singular body acting together as well. So it also has a it is set raising set pay rates separate and justified concerns. So two dashes there if you send which something between two dashes that is supposed to make you jump house of the reader. So this case was saying the management has a separate hands justified concern that any action should be carefully considered. Eso yeah, either to dashes or or no deck she is, but one dash tress really does work. Venice Paragraph one, paragraph two. Meanwhile, although the employee employees are producing pay rise, it's likely that they are so teaching. Why possibly are going to be disappointed? I would actually tend not to use these abbreviations in business documents or they find free males, but I've just managed to use them. Just throw in some extra typos. Next centers, the CEOs, old humans and argument is not have any in the middle of it is that they got one Oh, any? Where is the original? Said last year, saying so his his argument is that they got one last year comma because it is cross a long sentence and there's been no corresponding improvement in performance. Comma, you really would put in a holster breath there. He's not prepared to consider another rise, he said on Then you should put in a coma there as an introduction. So he said, comma. And then it is. The pay rise has had to be opposite effects rather than effects. FX with me is, may be used as a known, so if you if you see the effects or an effect of something, it's always with his always with FX can. Well, the third could go one way or the other. As we shall see, they're not taken out. The calmer in the next sentence is just People have become more lethargic since we started paying more Accommodate air is over kill really, However, comma there is optional, but it does give a bit more persists. Other board directors might feel tired. Pay will extend their rates, not accept rate, accelerate performance time, Final paragraph. Whatever happens with regard to pay rises. No regards. But regard is just with reference with regard, you can end an email with kind regards or best regards by all means. But in here it is just with regard the Prince of power. No principle with early but the main The principle point here is that it is time. So I t apostrophe s. It's time for board announced its decision. If it belongs to it, it's just I ts not mighty apostrophe s. Just think i t apostrophe s only a means teams like it's time it's up to you now. It's just like his hers. There's ours. Yours. If you end a letter with yours and ceiling, it's just why the arrest isn't strictly there. So that second it's in, the previous version was wrong. It's just I t s decision. Now. The uncertainty is affecting staff morale. So if you are changing or altering something, it's his offense to effort teas, changing stuff. Moreau. If you see effect with me as 1/3 you affect something that means you introduce something new that wasn't there before. So you would say, for example, that firm will effects new HR guidelines for its staff, as in introducing new guidelines. But if you're changing something, focus on the less a think effect means change also. So the uncertainty is affecting stuff. Maral of Morocco has knee on the end. If it's affecting stop morals, there's something very don't you going on fewer people than expected or supporting company events, not less people less is where one thing just shrinks down. So you would say that firms market share is less than it was last year. Because it's just one share, it shrunk. Fewer refers to individual countable items, so fewer people are are supporting company events and in supermarkets. These days, somebody has obviously been on the grammatical place because for years a lot of supermarkets above the quick check out it's used to say six items or less. That's wrong of these days. You do tend to see six items off your on, just in case you're wondering. That is no me, Roger to the head offices of Tesco's so so fewer people than expected of supporting company events. And it should really be in as something it's pans and their ease, so that doesn't need to be a apostrophe there, there's with an apostrophe. There is a general feeling that responsibility for making these events a success is not theirs became that does not need an apostrophe at the end. There's his hers. Its no apostrophe there. So that was rather gruesome and nitty gritty exercise. And probably worse than anything, anything in real life will throw at you. Uh, but it is good to a stretching exercise like that, and I think that these two weapons together cover most of the more gruesome areas of freedom. So to reiterate more haste, speeds work systematically. Find a quiet space printed after a hard copy. Where possible? Yeah, half a dictionary. Grammar guides handy if absolutely necessary. Remember that spell check complete. Trust is 100% of the time, so that brings us to the into the program. Thank you very much for watching. I hope that has been useful. And if you are proof reading something in the not too distant future, then good luck
John is a solicitor admitted in England and Wales, and is an Associate Member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. He studied law at St. John's College, Oxford, and qualified as a solicitor in 1988. He started his professional life with the Treasury Solicitor's Department, before moving to the private sector in the early 1990s. In the mid 1990s he moved to lecturing at the Oxford Institute of Legal Practice before moving back to the City. He has worked as a transactional lawyer and as an in-house training manager.
John specialises in addressing difficult areas like business writing skills, where people sometimes know that they have a development need but are self-conscious about saying so. In addition to delivering online webinars, John also runs highly practical workshops with lots of exercises and interactivity, and his clients appreciate the way that he deals with serious issues with wit and good humour.