Proofreading and Editing

Posted: November 30, 2009 in Ramblings
Lately I’ve become rather dismayed at the amount of grammatical and spelling errors being printed.  I see a lot of websites with bad spelling.  I can kind of understand this – there’s no guarantee that the owner of (say) a knitting store will be a good speller – but on the other hand I really believe in grammatical integrity when your income is on the line.  I’ve also purchased a bunch of books – NOT Vine advance copies – that have spelling mistakes in them, frequently misspelled words that are actually real words ("there" for "they’re," for example) but also simply bad spelling mistakes ("sovareign," "illiterative" among them).  What’s up with people?  Why are these professional publications – and I do include websites in this – allowed to come to the eyes of the public with mistakes in them?
I once worked as a website proofreader and had constant battles about this.  The programmer who did the web work was an engineer in charge of maintaining all the technical explanations of the products.  He was very bad at spelling and grammar.  My job was to check out the site and make sure it looked appropriate in both IE and Netscape, on all resolutions, and didn’t have any weird overlaps or whatever.  Naturally I pointed out all the spelling and grammar errors, too, but the programmer refused to fix them, saying "Engineers don’t care about that kind of stuff, they just want the information."  I battled it out with our boss, who eventually caved and supported him instead of me (a blow for feminism, indeed!).  Chris had to listen to constant rants during this time.  I was almost glad when they laid me off, because it went against my nature to allow these kinds of errors on a site for which I was ultimately responsible.
Yet on the other hand, in all my (nine? ten?) years of reading Entertainment Weekly I have never yet noticed an error.   I don’t read newspapers but my bet is that organizations like the Wall Street Journal and Washington Post are holding firm, too.  So there is some hope. 
I continue to offer my services as proofreader and editor to anyone who may wish to take advantage of them; contact me for my hourly rate. 

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