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A proofreader never rests

I have always been a proofreader. I can’t seem to not read something without having the typos jump out at me. If they’re there, I’ll generally find them. But that usually happens when reading print, not when I’m watching a TV show. Does anybody here watch the comedy show Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist? No, me either [or is it “nor do I” or “me neither” or “neither do I”? Perhaps a topic for a future post.]. But, somehow, last year I found myself watching a scene at 14:26 of Episode 5, Season 1 (“Look at you! Power couple alert!”). Did anybody else see the apostrophe catastrophe on the cover of the magazine (MCM) that Zoe’s mom Maggie was holding? The cover...

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Musings after a year of proofreading

More than a year, actually. I have been donating my early mornings to Newsroom, a new New Zealand news site with an innovative business model. According to its own description, Newsroom does independent journalism and “in-depth storytelling for thinking audiences”, producing “quality written and video stories that set the national news agenda and inform intelligent conversations”. They take donations, they choose their sponsor partners carefully and their NewsroomPro service releases articles to the general readership 24 hours after subscribers receive them. On the whole, Newsroom accomplishes what it sets out to achieve. There is no clickbait, either in the form of advertisements or in the guise of articles masquerading as news. Its journalists' work is complemented by contributions from subject matter...

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Save Lives

My mission as Word Engineer is to lift the quality of writing in the world, one document and one writer at a time. If you are one of my customers, my goal is to help you to improve your writing to such a level that, once I retire, you won’t need my services anymore. Okay, I think that the first draft of my mission statement may be a bit on the wordy side. And possibly too honest. One of the blessings – or is it a curse? – of being a natural proofreader is that I see spelling mistakes. Like submariners hear klaxons. A typo will jump out at me like a jack-in-the-box and shout "Dire! Dire! Dire!" Dire! Dire! Dire! (Image...

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Copy-editing?

When I was exploring options for a career in freelance writing, I discovered there are people out there who provide copy-editing and proofreading services to businesses, to publishers and to students writing theses and dissertations. I knew what proofreading was, and thought I was pretty good at that. Over the course of my engineering career, I had always enjoyed proofreading my colleagues’ documents before they issued them. But, copy-editing?      The term was unfamiliar. However, once I found a definition, I realised that copy-editing was also what I did when checking my colleagues’ reports and letters, and that part of the checking was what I actually found most enjoyable. Here’s a good definition, from the notes I received from...

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How to find your inner wordsmith, and why you need to.

(This article of mine was originally published on LinkedIn on 19 September 2019, and I've given myself permission to reproduce it in full here. I used US English in this article.) Before I get started, let’s get one thing clear. It’s highly likely that I’m not talking about you, specifically. The chances of that are very small. I’m not talking about your inner wordsmith. I’m talking about the wordsmith within your organization. Or department, depending on the size of your organization. Which raises a very big question: Question #1: Does my organization have a wordsmith in its ranks? Forget official job descriptions and company hierarchy. Forget KPIs and targets. Those things will take care of themselves if your organization is, well, well-organized. The role I am...

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