Proofreaders need proofreaders

When reading things, I read in one of two modes. I either read assuming the text is right; or I read assuming there are errors.

When reading something that I’ve written, I’m in the former mode. After all, why would I make mistakes? (That’s not arrogance. Just human nature.) When reading something that someone else has written, I assume there are mistakes, and I try to find them. After all, I’m a proofreader. That’s my job. You can’t just turn it off. (Pointing out said mistakes is the only thing you can turn off.) I expect people in other industries behave similarly.

Part of the reason for the different modes is the aforementioned human nature. We assume things that we’ve done are correct, because our aim when doing them was to do them correctly. But familiarity also plays a part. If I’ve just typed an email, I know what I intended to write, and so when reading it back five minutes later, I read what I intended as opposed to what is necessarily written. If there’s a missing “an”, then I’ll assume the “an” is there, because that was my intention when writing it. And so I won’t spot the error.

For this reason, I am unable to proofread something that I’ve written to the same standard as I would someone else’s work. This issue is maximised when it’s just been written.

*Awaits comments about grammatical errors in the above post*

Posted by Dan, 1 June, 2014 under Life

Comments

  • Hi Dan, You need wait no longer! Here follows the errors I spotted:
    1) First paragraph – there should be a colon not a full stop after ‘mode’ and there is no need for a semi-colon after ‘is right’ in the second sentence.
    2) ‘That’s not arrogance. Just human nature.’ – no full stop required, a semi-colon or a colon and then lower case ‘just’ preferably preceded by ‘it’s’.
    3) ‘… I’m a proofreader. That’s my job.’ – again either a semi-colon or a colon instead of a full stop followed by lower case ‘that’s’.
    4)We assume things that we’ve done are correct, because our aim when doing them was to do them correctly. But familiarity also plays a part. (No need for a comma after ‘correct’ and my pet hate – the dreaded conjunction at the start of a sentence! See me after class!)
    5) No comma is required after ‘to write’.
    6) ‘And so I won’t spot the error.’ (Again, starting a sentence with a conjunction is a big no-no if you wish to be grammatically correct.)
    That said, I do realise that emails, text messages and comments on blogs such as this are intended to be ‘chatty’ and are not pieces of academic work so please forgive my impudence! I am an experienced proofreader and, as with your own experience, errors just leap off the page at me – all the time! I am also very short on work at present so if you ever have more work than you can handle please feel free to contact me. Julia

    Posted by Julia Brown, 20 February, 2015, 3:58pm


Leave a comment