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Proofreading Goofs and Gaffes

Proofreading pays. After all, the devil is in the details, as many have said. Is it so?

If you are a published writer, perhaps you know the pain of discovering an errant letter, a misspelled word or a wrongly placed punctuation mark after your work has gone to print. Maybe you have found an entire paragraph uploaded twice in a web article or a verse of poetry missing from the final product.

Alas! The devil may indeed be in the details.

Not long ago, a long-lost high school friend found me on Facebook. She subscribed to my online articles and became a loyal reader. (How we web writers do love our devoted subscribers!)

Then it happened. I posted a link to a timely article on my profile page, and my friend left a cheery comment. In the next line, she pointed out an error in the piece. A double negative twisted the entire intent of the second paragraph.


Occasionally, names can trip us up. Just ask my friend Virginia, who finally found her name in print. But it was misspelled and read like an answer to a junior high biology class quiz question on female reproductive parts.

Sometimes a typo or two can make us laugh at ourselves.

My friend and writing colleague ShawnTe Pierce was kind enough to allow me to share a comical goof, which she caught and corrected. Here's how she described it:

“Sometimes I will write a quick article as if I am writing a memo on an acct. (like I just did here, lol) abbreviating longer words. The word should have been ‘assessment,’ but I glossed over my shorthand and was left with ‘asses.’ The sentence read, ‘In order to make a final asses of the layout, you will need...’”

Yep, glossing is where the trouble usually starts, and it happens to even the best writers. 

Proofreading pays.

Years ago, I put myself through journalism school by moonlighting as an editor. I’d file my beat stories and then grab giant stacks of book galleys. Blue pencil in hand, I’d mark and mangle. I’d decipher, delete and delineate. And it was profitable.

Sometimes proofreading can be a lot more fun than it sounds. And occasionally, careful editing uncovers unintentional gaffes.

Once I was working on a manuscript for a noted evangelical pastor, writing on sexual abstinence before marriage. Here’s what he said in the final chapter:

“If you follow the guidelines of Scripture, as we’ve discussed in these pages, you should make out just fine.”

OK, I don’t have a footnote on that one, but it was unforgettable.

How things have changed.

The internet explosion has blown the once-guarded gates of publishing wide open. Now anyone can be a blogger, or even a published author. At the same time, web writers and self-published novelists alike often go it alone. Frequently, no editorial staff monitors material before it appears.

Maybe we all need our own editors.

What’s the most intriguing or embarrassing typo or error you’ve ever had published?

Facepalm photo - Creative Commons Licensing

1 comment:

  1. I don't have any examples to share. I ever make mistakes.


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