Last Friday's newsletter ran one of our biggest stories ever, "Missouri State University Misspells Name on Over 8,000 Promotional Bags
." Either you guys are really into schadenfreude, majorly concerned with proofreading, or maybe just HUGE Missouri State fans (obviously the most likely answer. Go Crazy Beavers! Or whatever their mascot is! I don't really follow college sports! Because they're so boring! Unlike exclamation points, which are the best!!! See?!?!?!)
Anywho, the story brought in a huge amount of traffic for us. And while I don't have much to say about schadenfreude ("It's great" pretty much covers it,) or college sports (see above), I can talk a little about proofreading (it's partly how I make my living after all.) So, if you're worried about ending up like the poor souls who let a relatively big typo slip by their eyes, indulge and absorb yourself of my proofreading advice below.1. For the Love of God and Kittens, Use Spell Check On Every Single Thing You Write
Your computer's spell check is not perfect, but that doesn't matter. Spell check is where your proofreading starts on every bit of copy you write. It doesn't matter if you're working in a word processor or not. Take the text you write, copy and paste it into Word or TextEdit or whatever, then look for the red squiggly lines. If there are red squiggly lines, either you or your computer is dumb. Figure out which of you it is, then make the necessary corrections. Green squiggly lines also aren't good, so you should look at correcting those as well.
I can't tell you the amount of third-party copy I look at every day that obviously hasn't been spell-checked. It's horrendous because it takes roughly two clicks to spell-check something, and it's a really efficient and painless way to remove 9/10 of the errors from your piece. I'm not sure why more people don't do it, other than arrogance and gross sloth, but I think we can agree, those aren't palatable excuses. ("Sorry Mr. Client, I didn't proof that thing because I didn't feel like it, and also who cares?") So please, just spell-check every single line of copy you write. It takes like 4 seconds and you'll be surprised by the number of errors you catch. 2. Proofread in Pairs—Or Triplicate
Before a piece goes out, have two-to-three people proofread the copy. Even the strongest proofreader is fallible, so having extra eyes on something is an easy way to reduce your chances of an error slipping past. People get tired, careless or accidently miss stupid little mistakes all the time, but it's not usually the same error, hence the value of multiple proofers. 3. Keep a Hawk's Eye Over Art Changes
If I had to guess how the Missouri State Bag error happened, I'd say someone called for a font or text change last-minute, and no one bothered to check the new version. If my experience in the magazine business is any indication, this is how 4,000 percent of errors make it to print. It's so easy to trust your art person to make a small change without error, but it's also a preposterously easy way to get slammed with typos. Copy and pasting the wrong text, using an old file, or simply careless typing, there are so many ways an art change can go wrong, it's critical that you closely proofread after each one.
I'm not saying art people are careless or otherwise prone to error, I just mean that at the ends of projects, where people are getting tired and rushed, that's where mistakes start happening. So it's not an art-person thing, it's a deadline-stress/fatigue thing. It's just human error, there's a chance for it in everything we do, which is why every art change should be thoroughly proofed, even the simplest, smallest change.
That's it for this week guys! Thanks for reading and see you all next week!Like my blog? Why not follow PM on Twitter or Facebook (or just me on RSS or LinkedIn) so you never miss a post? Thanks!
Monday Mike Fact: Saw Skyfall over the weekend. It was awful, a weird mix of The Dark Knight and Home Alone. I'm sure that sounds awesome, but in actuality it was terrible, boring and embarrassing. A man is eaten by a CGI komodo dragon in a busy casino, and no one reacts, screams or even says "hey, uh, did that security guy just get eaten? Maybe we should tell someone? Like a manager or a doctor or something?" Nope! Just keep playing craps and let James Bond happily walk out with a huge briefcase of money! Makes perfect sense, and by perfect sense, I mean I should have rented Wreck-it Ralph.