Spotted in the Wild: Some Lazy Summer Errors

It’s still summer, if not for much longer, and a quick, not-too-serious post fits the mood. This is the type of light post I’d usually put on my Facebook page (yes, I have a Facebook page; if you’re interested in following that, you can ‘like’ it here). I post a bit more frequently there (every week or two, vs. monthly here) and keep things short. This one takes up more space, so the blog is better.

I’d mentioned some time back that it seemed like most of the copyeditors had taken the summer off because of the quantity of silly errors I was encountering. The two (or is it three?) below were part of this trend. These are available in PDF form at the source, but the resolution was low so I made my own digital images to better highlight the errors.

Anyway: I picked up the local “city paper” (I read it once or twice most weeks but the real reason I grab it is for the Sudoku) and noticed this ad on the front page:

Molly Ringwald! In "perosn!"

Molly Ringwald! In “perosn!”

I cringed but smiled. The error was amusing, if small, but I still had to shake my head: this was almost certainly a camera-ready ad that had been sent to the paper as-is, meaning that it wasn’t the paper’s responsibility (or fault) that this happened. The event promoter had botched it. Which is sad, but so it goes. The ad was fairly small — less than 1×2 inches — so the error probably went unnoticed by most readers.

Several pages later, however, I was confronted with a much larger version of the same ad, part of a full-page spread for eight events at the same venue. ‘No,’ I thought to myself, ‘don’t tell me they made this mistake in the large copy and then scaled it down for the front page plug.’ Sadly, they had:

As long as it's better than being "in prison."

As long as it’s better than being “in prison.”

We’re not through. Two weeks later in another issue of the same paper, I came across this:

I don't know what a "gitft" is. But they've got the best in New England!

I don’t know what a “gitft” is. But they’ve got the best in New England!

Again, this probably wasn’t the paper’s fault. This looks like another client-supplied ad, which wasn’t properly reviewed at the source. The error could almost be lost (it’s a full page ad), but the photo, the type face, and the placement right above a list of awards, all draw the eye to it. This one might have been a little trickier for the staff to spot, because of that…”decorative”…type face.  It still should have been corrected before submission.

What can I say? Only a variation on what I always say: it doesn’t matter how good you are with language, you always want someone else to check your work. Everyone makes mistakes. But you can minimize the ones that make you look unprofessional with a quick (and usually not very expensive) review by a good copyeditor.

Alright. All the kids are going back to school, but we’ve got one more big summer weekend left and probably another month of summery weather. Enjoy it! If you need a hand avoiding this kind of problem when you get back to the office, drop me a line. That’s what I’m here for.


About thebettereditor

Chris holds a BA degree in history from the University of Virginia and a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) Degree in writing from the University of Southern Maine (Stonecoast). He has worked extensively with professional and semi-professional writers and enthusiastic amateurs for about 20 years. He has several years experience in scientific publishing, but has also worked in information technology, insurance, health care, and education (he taught writing at the university level for a number of years). Since 2011, he's also specialized in helping small business meet their writing and editing needs on a budget.
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2 Responses to Spotted in the Wild: Some Lazy Summer Errors

  1. Adan Ramie says:

    I go through life this way, Chris. Little problems like this make me cringe, and every once in a while, I have to restrain myself from offering my editorial services for free — just so that I won’t have to see errors like this in newspapers, magazines, books, and signage when I’m trying to enjoy my day.

    That being said, even with several pairs of eyes on something, errors can still be missed. I actually found a ridiculously glaring error in an early chapter of the second proof copy of my upcoming novel. What’s sad is that several people had missed it before it was finally caught. I’m just glad I get to make changes again before it’s out there in the world!

    • Thanks, Adam. That cringe takes a long time to learn to live with, for those of us who work with words all the time. It can be hard to ‘turn off’ and not worry about the work of others.
      I also can’t say it enough as an editor (and writer): no matter how good you are, someone else needs to look over your work. Everyone makes errors, and it’s hardest to see our own. I’m a careful editor, but when I do actual writing for business clients, I have to be extra, extra careful when reviewing my own work.

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