Updated Dec. 11, 2017
Whether it’s company Christmas cards, calendars or holiday event collateral, there’s a flurry of Yuletide business copy being produced this time of year.
To help you prevent and catch content mistakes, here are some holiday-specific editing and proofreading tips for small and midsize businesses and Fortune 500 corporations.
Holiday greeting cards
Yes, greeting cards only contain a sentence or two, but mistakes can – and do – happen.
- Follow the spelling and punctuation rules from your main writing style guide. The Associated Press Stylebook, which I follow, says to use:
- “Christmas” (never “Xmas”).
- “New Year’s Eve” (not “New Years’ Eve” or “New Years Eve”).
- “New Year’s Day” (not “New Year’s day”).
- “happy holidays,” “merry Christmas” and “season’s greetings” (lowercase) in a sentence:
- “We wish you a merry Christmas.”
- “Have a happy New Year.”
- Check the spelling and punctuation of your CEO’s name (if the card is signed by him or her) and follow AP style. Examples:
- No space between initials (“W.C. Fields” – not “W. C. Fields”).
- No comma before “Jr.” (“John Smith Jr.” – not “John Smith, Jr.”).
If you give away a company wall (or magnet) calendar every year and rely on your print shop to update the dates and information from the previous year, double check everything before the calendar is printed:
- Find a reliable, reference calendar that’s the correct year before you begin proofreading. (Try timeanddate.com.)
- Use the source to confirm that:
- Every date corresponds with the correct day.
- The correct dates and correct order of dates appear each month (no missing or duplicate numbers).
- The number of days per month is correct (Example: March has 31 days, not 30. Keep in mind that leap year, occurs every four years. The next leap year day is Feb. 29, 2020.)
- Holiday and observance dates are accurate.
- Moon phases (if included) are accurate. Use timeanddate.com as a reference or check your calendar against the Farmer’s Almanac.
- Confirm that the copyright date (if included) is correct.
Special event collateral
Many corporations sponsor holiday events, like festivals and fun runs. If the event occurs every year, the related content is often copied and pasted from the previous year’s collateral (posters, news releases, advertisements, registration forms, etc.). The copy is then updated for the new year.
Go over every word and number with a fine-toothed comb to ensure that:
- Each date corresponds with the correct day.
- All figures are correct, such as:
- Number of participants expected.
- Number of participants from the previous year.
- Number of years the event has been held (example: 10th annual).
- Total proceeds raised the previous year.
- Copyright dates (if included) are correct.
- AP style is followed for event-specific terms:
- Use packet “pickup” (not packet “pick up”).
- Use “5K race” or “5-kilometer race” (not “5 K race” or “5-k race”).
Proofread the usual suspects
For every type of holiday content, remember to proofread (as usual) every word for errors in spelling, punctuation, grammar, style and spacing, as well as discrepancies in font size and type.
Keep up the good proofreading work year-round
You’ve worked hard all year protecting your company brand with thorough editing. Don’t let the hustle and bustle of the holidays tempt you to cut corners. Remind yourself to slow down and carefully proofread each piece of business content.
For more holiday writing style information, see the AP list of holiday terms.