Good Proofreading Is Priceless
Working with words for a living has sensitized me to the need for a second—even third or fourth—set of eyes on anything anyone writes. Especially my jottings. Good proofreading is indeed priceless.
Several years ago, I drafted a blog that contained some deep personal significance. Soon after it posted, I sent a copy of the link to the consultant whose writing had helped inspired it.
He soon emailed me back, pointing out that I might want to change a word in the third paragraph.
I looked and, sure enough, I had botched it.
An innocent mistake, yet one that illustrates the human condition.
While my web maven corrected the miscue before too many people saw the original, I vowed at that point to get another pair of eyes to look at my musings before they were public.
Thus, I worked out a “trade out” agreement with another freelancer.
We proof each other’s blogs prior to posting, which saves us both red faces.
The city of Prichard, Alabama could have used a proofreader before it distributed 10,000 trash cans recently.
They proudly declared Prichard to be the “Crossroads of Mobile Country.” Except they should have said “County,” with no “r” in there.
Of course, anyone who has worked in any kind of editorial enterprise knows how easy it is for such mistakes to slip by everyone.
That’s why I tell would-be authors and others who are interested in producing a book: the secret isn’t finding the perfect editor, since none exist.
It’s getting a team of four, five or six people who can all go over the material to guard against flaws. We’re human. They happen.
Living with Mistakes
Once mistakes are in print, you have to live with them. So, I applaud the Prichard mayor’s office for saying it has no plans to replace the trashcans.
After all, the mistake could call more attention to them, turn them into collector’s items, and spread awareness of the need for proper trash disposal.
Sometimes an error can make life more memorable.
And then, sometimes they can just prove embarrassing.
I was reminded of that recently in uncovering some church bulletin bloopers that have resided on my hard drive for so long I have forgotten who emailed them to me.
Armed with their humor, I offered to do a short joke segment at a recent meeting of my local Toastmasters group.
The night I read some of those faux pas, a couple times I broke into laughter before reaching the punchline.
The Music of Beans
One of my favorites: “A bean dinner will be held on Tuesday evening in the church hall. Music will follow.”
I’m sure it did, but I don’t think the writer meant to link the beans with the tunes.
Another: “Jane has volunteered to strip and refinish the Communion table in the sanctuary.”
No, this was not actually naked woodworking.
Then there was the slightly misworded wedding announcement: “Let us join David and Lisa in the celebration of their wedding and bring their happiness to a conclusion.”
Uh, wrong signal.
Or, how about: “Illiterate? Write to the church office for help.”
A tough challenge, indeed.
“If you are going to be hospitalized for an operation, contact the pastor. Special prayer also for those who are seriously sick by request.”
Someone has asked to be sick?
“Eight new choir robes are currently needed due to the addition of several new members and the deterioration of some older ones.”
People or robes?
You get the point. Since none of us is perfect, we all need a proofreader. Otherwise, we will have to live with the effects of the beans.