Proofreading

Dear readers,

A discussion over lunch the other day made me wonder how you do it – the proofreading part of your job, or your writing, or whatever it is that you proofread.

I proofed for an engineer during college, after learning how to proofread backwards for my high-school literary mag (thank you, Mrs. K!).  I still proof backwards (which is an acquired taste, admittedly), as well as reading aloud.  For my first full-time job, I was as a night proofreader for a government services firm outside of D.C. The bulk of my job there was to keep the ‘l’ in the word ‘public’ (truly. That’s what we were told in training.  It’s important, when you think about it.).  I’ve learned a number of style manuals over the years, and still favor Chicago Manual style, if I have a choice.

For all of that, just as I was about to send out Moon to one of my readers, I discovered an egregious typo on page 2.  Yep.  So proud.

What about you?

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4 comments

  1. Backwards is good. I used to do that for my own work. I found that in editing the writing of others it was less necessary.

    I rely heavily on reference materials to check absolutely everything I’m not sure of. My favorite for word choice (in English) is Fowlers; for French, it’s Les Difficultés de la langue française, which I have even used in my current job to correct a wrong-headed French client.

    Of course, IIRC, I had a typo in my application letter for my previous editorial job. Make of that what you will.

    • Sylvie, that’s interesting about not using it for others’ writing. Do you think that’s because you haven’t seen the work before? One day, I want you to be my fact-checker. That would be awesome.

  2. Yeah, I think with writing that was new I was less likely to fall into that seeing-a-word-because-you-know-it-should-be-there trap.

    At the moment, I would love to be anyone’s fact checker. With my work craziness, freelance editing, proofing, etc. is looking better all the time!

  3. I’m afraid I rely almost entirely on getting it right the first time. For many years, that worked very well for me, but I find that these days I’m substituting homonyms for no particular reason – annoying and embarrassing.

    So, I proofread carefully start to finish, and I’ve even taken to using spell-check. But what actually works best is giving the document to other people.

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