Thursday, June 07, 2007

A familiar lump in my throat

As a grammar/spelling Nazi, I cringe when I see errors in print. In my job, I copyedit the work of others. My copy is usually quite clean, if I do say so myself, so I've often wondered how something gets to me with misspelled words. Like they didn't spellcheck it, or even glance at it before they gave it to me.

I'm reminded of the college interns at my last job, who had zeros where they meant to have ")" (look at your keyboard). Like the phone number would say (3600555-1212. How does that not totally jump out at you?

But I've been on the other side of the copydesk this week, as I put together a 20-page report in PageMaker, where it is much easier than I realized to overlook misspellings, missing spaces and other sorts of copy inconsistencies. I am very grateful to the woman who pointed all of my gaffes, although I think she felt like she was being a pest. Not at all. I just hope she doesn't think I'm a moron for passing along something so imperfect.

It's just a first draft! I want to tell her. I knew it would have mistakes, that's why I sent it to you!

In the midst of all this I received a press release that I should have been consulted on, if not asked to write myself. Three blatant typos. Two of them in tribal names. I forwarded it to my boss with the note "This is what happens when I get cut out of the process."

And then had a moment where I thought I might have hit reply instead of send. You know that dread-filled lump in your throat where you think you might actually die from the mistake? I had that.

Except I didn't send it back to the author, just to my boss, who supported my inclination to send a friendly e-mail noting the errors. Which I did, causing the author to feel that same lump, no doubt.

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