Even little errors and inconsistencies can shake readers’ confidence in the accuracy of what we write. Replace if for it. Your for you. Your for you’re. Iversen for Iverson. Misspelled names and misused words.
What is proofreading?
Most people think of proofreading as skimming a document to catch and mark errors. In this sense, most people occasionally proofread, if only to check the personal letters they write. When you proofread your business and professional papers and electronic messages, however, you must take the process seriously.
Professional proofreading involves comparing two versions of the same document to catch errors and to mark them so the creator understands the instruction. Proofreading compares the live copy (the newly produced version) to the dead copy (the author’s original version) – word for word and letter for letter What a proofreader does. A proofreader works with language that is hand-written, typed or onscreen. You are doing comparison As a proofreader, you mark the live copy where it differs from the dead, such as where letters, words, or lines are omitted or repeated.
The cost of not proofreading
- Years ago, in Ottawa County, Mich., someone failed to notice that the typist skipped the L in public on a proposed amendment for an election ballot. Someone had to pay $40,000 to correct the embarrassing typo and reprint 170,000 ballots.
- A Bucks County judge slashed a lawyer’s fee because of typos. In court filings, the lawyer frequently mentioned the “United States District Court for the Easter District of Pennsylvania.” That’s “Easter” instead of “Eastern.” The judge wrote: “Considering the religious persuasion of the presiding officer, the ‘Passover’ District would have been more appropriate.” And the lawyer addressed the judge as “Jacon,” not “Jacob,” Hart. The cost of these typos, termed “careless, to the point of disrespectful”? A reduction of a $300 hourly fee to $150. Take that and spell-check it.
- Here are three wonderful examples of simple misteaks.
Leak soup. (On the menu at a retirement community. A grim dining choice for people who perceive their youth is dribbling away.)
Duel air bags. (Me, I usually spar with the seatbelts. (From captions on GMA.)
A sign in the parking lot of Wills Eye Hospital pointed to the proper place for WILLS EYE DROP OFF. Deliver your ears to Pennsylvania Hospital and drive your legs to the University of Pennsylvania.