It’s when time is pressed that we most make mistakes. And this is as true for tender writing as it is for anything else. Just think how many times tender writers have forgotten to change the name of the organisation to which they last tendered after they cut and paste from the previous tender into their new one. It’s something Tender Writers sees all the time.
Submitting tenders without first conducting a thorough proofread is poor practice. A ‘quick read over’ won’t do. Truth is, proofreading your tender submissions is vital. Even Australia Government requests for tenders recommend that tenderers have someone check their final drafts before uploading to the government’s website.
The problem is that tender proofreaders are seen as a last minute add-on; something that’s a luxury rather than a necessity.
What does a tender proofreader actually do?
Tender proofreading isn’t rewriting your tender or making major edits. Your tender proofreader’s job is to go through your tender with a fine-toothed comb. They identify typos, punctuation mistakes, grammatical errors, missing words, extra words and spaces, misalignment of tables and text and any other inconsistencies that make your content look less professional.
Moreover, proofreaders check formatting issues such as tables of content, page numbering and heading hierarchy. They also double-check that proper nouns like employee names and locations are spelt correctly.
Professional proofreaders are risk assurance for companies that take their writing tenders seriously. After all, if you have spent time writing a tender, you don’t want your tender submission to be ruined with typos or other errors. Poor quality tender submissions jeopardise your opportunity to win new contracts.
7 tips for tender proofreading
As you may not have time to employ a professional proofreader for tender proofreading before the deadline, here are our five tips on what to do to make checking your tender easier.
1. Wait until the end to proofread your tender submissions, even if you’re the tender writer
There’s no point in proofreading until you’ve finished writing and copy editing your tender. Only once you’re satisfied with what you’ve written should you turn your attention to spelling, grammar and punctuation. Vigilance is key, so forget being creative – just focus your laser-like attention on catching slip ups.
2. Get someone else to proofread your tenders and bids
If you can, ask someone else to proofread it for you: someone who’s not been involved in writing the tender. Their eyes will see things that you miss.
3. Print your tenders to proofread
If you’ve been the tender writer for your tender, you’ll be familiar with its content. When you know the tender content, it’s very hard to see typos and other mistakes. This is because when you read back over the content, you know what’s coming next so your eyes skip ahead, potentially missing errors.
To minimise the risk of errors in your tender, it’s absolutely vital to print your draft tender and read the paper version, even if you get someone else to proofread the tender for you. Mistakes are easier to pick up on paper.
You simply cannot proofread well if there are distractions. Abandon your mobile, turn off your computer, lock yourself in a cupboard if you must, but for heaven’s sake make sure you’re somewhere quiet and brook no interruptions. Blissful silence will improve your tender proofreading no end.
5. Read your tenders aloud
Sure, it can feel a bit weird at first, but hey, you’re in a room on your own, so who’s to hear? The good news, however, is that you will ‘hear’ the errors.
Saying each word clearly alerts us to missing syllables, misspellings, extra words and missing words. You’ll be amazed how many errors you’ll pick up this way. It will also help you to identify where you’ve used the same word or phrase multiple times.
To be super-thorough, vocalise punctuation – ‘Since landing, comma, the aliens have made unreasonable demands, full stop, space’. Works like a charm.
6. Check the formatting of your tenders
You’ll save yourself a lot of bother and heartache if you check formatting as your final task. You may have moved text around or needed to add in more info, which all affect layout. So, for the sake of your sanity, the checking of spacing, bullet list indentation, font size and hierarchy and style of headings can all happily wait until the end.
7. Use a professional bids and tender proofreader, whenever you can
Whenever possible, employing a professional proofreader is your best option.
A professional proofreader will spot not only glaringly obvious errors, but ones you and your team may never have realised were there. Highlighting pesky spelling mistakes, poor grammar, unnecessary repetition, ambiguity and more is all part and parcel of a proofreader’s day.
That’s where we come in. Proof Communications is the first port of call for companies nationally. We proofread tenders, bids and proposals, plus important stakeholder documents such as annual reports, financial statements, PDSs, RAPs and other stakeholder documents.
Despite how often clients tell us, “We’ve been through the tender a few times, so we don’t expect that you’ll find very much,” they are amazed that, on average, we make ten mark-ups per page. In a 50 page tender submission, that’s 500 mark-ups!
But if time is simply too tight, following these steps will help ensure your message in your tenders are tidy.
For help with proofreading your tenders and bids, contact Proof Communications on 02 9314 7506 or 0411 123 216 today.