Reprinted from The Catalog Marketer

Copyreading Is So Vital that Managers

Need to Pitch In Continually

by Rene Gnam

You get letters? Of course you do!

They say: "Why do you advertise a red parka, when your telephone lady tells me you only have blue?"

They say: "You promised I'd get my canoe in two weeks, but it still isn't here!"

They say: "I was supposed to get a free American flag with my order, but all I got was an American flag button!"

They say: "Your catalog promised me a discounted rate, but you charged me more even though I made your deadline for ordering."

Most problems like these can be avoided if your catalog or promotion mailing is triple-checked before going to press. And one of the best ways to triple-check is to copyread.


Copyreading, a word we borrow from newspaper journalists, is not proofreading -- commonly defined as checking for spelling and punctuation errors. Rather, copyreading means checking for factual errors and documentation of facts.


For instance:

If you sell toothpaste for dinosaurs and your copy says that a tyrannosaurus has 55 teeth, your readers would know that you don't know your business.


Why? Because a tyrannosaurus has 65 teeth.


It's the brontosaurus that has 55 teeth.

Silliness? No. Seriousness! Make any error that's recognized by a prospective customer and he's likely to pitch your pitch!


Marketers would do well to copyread page proofs at these levels of management before printing:

should copyread to be certain that overzealous copywriters haven't promised more than can be delivered. This also is the fulfillment manager's opportunity to double-check all shipping data, company policies on returns, and all the basics, such as: have we allowed enough room for a customer to fill in the blanks?

need to copyread diligently regarding sizes, colors, quantities and accessories. At this stage, the product manager also wants to check inventories for each item in the catalog.

should copyread offer statements, looking for the most intriguing propositions, scanning to see if various items can also be presented in kits, libraries, collections, or complete ensembles.

should copyread to be sure that all wording dovetails with the company's desired image and that the overall look of the catalog doesn't deter from that impression.

should copyread to be sure that solid copy appeals are made to known facts about targeted lists for each catalog drop.

need to copyread as a final check or fine-tuning before printing.

Note that I'm suggesting copyreading from page proofs, or ink-jet color prints, or color laser prints which should be as complete as possible after all proofreading corrections have been made. This is so each copyreader has the total "feel" of each page and each spread before him. You cannot do a thorough, proper copyreading job if you only have segments of pages to work with.

And, after all your copyreading is done, you'll need another round of proofreading. In fact, you could proofread 17,000 times and still unearth a typo�but it�s more important to get your mail in the mail than it is to create a perfect mailing!


Rene Gnam is an independent response marketing consultant

specializing in creative advertising techniques.

He can be reached at 813-407-8400


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Rene Gnam is a Marketing Consultant and Advertising Copywriter

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I'm usually in Florida, and here are the numbers:

FAX 813-475-4354      CELL 813-407-8400

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