Perhaps You Need PUGS

If you’re going to hire a writer or editor, you should give some thought to exactly what you want them to do.

It might be as simple as checking PUGS – punctuation, usage, grammar and spelling – a cute and useful acronym I picked up in a recent newsletter from the Editorial Freelancers Association.

A PUGS check would be appropriate if the draft of your speech, report or other document is almost final. In this case, you’re hiring a proofreader. You’re not interested in anyone messing with the content, just double-checking it for errors or inconsistencies.

I’m happy to proofread copy, although as a writer, I can’t help but evaluate the work as I read and I often see ways to improve it, particularly if it’s been compiled “by committee.”

I make it clear to the client that they’re suggestions, absolutely optional. I might recommend moving or combining sections of a document, tightening up the copy, simplifying graphics or adding photos.

I always ask who the readers will be, but even for a highly technical audience, minimizing jargon, getting to the point and making an attractive final product is appreciated.

As one client put it last month, “You’re exactly the person we need to edit these reports!”

That’s a terrific feeling.

(Photo credit: Tomasz Zagorski/Unsplash)