I find that some proofreaders and editors are great at spotting ‘micro-errors’ that most people miss. They’ll spot some obscure fact that might need checking a mile off. But then they miss blatantly obvious things – and they’re the ones that matter.
The reader wouldn’t know an orphan if they saw one. But they’ll judge a publication harshly if it misspells a celebrity’s name, and rightly so.
I knew one proofreader who checked a magazine perfectly, but didn’t spot that the barcode was missing from the back page. That little error cost the company thousands, as the newsagents had to give that issue away!
Then there was the guy who didn’t notice that the paper’s masthead was missing. Only he knows how that one got through.
If you’re a proofreader, try to pinpoint what you miss and why. Then build in safeguards to correct the weakness.
Never assume a writer is correct. Assume their copy is wrong, and go with what you know is correct. If you’re not sure, Google it, and bookmark it or note if it’s something that may crop up again.
By Cleland Thom, director, CTJT
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