Editor Afloat

Dedicated to Sticklers everywhere!

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Help Wanted

I was sent a link to some job offers yesterday by a friend who thought I might be interested in them. The ads, that is, not the jobs. These offers were listed, ironically, under Proofreaders Needed. No kidding! (These are actual quotes, I couldn’t make this stuff up! Names have been redacted for privacy purposes.)

[Company Name] reguraly does business with multiple Federal Agencies. Most Federal Agencies require, for security purposes, that all employees are U.S. citizens…

Okay, I’m scared. These people are contracted by our government? Yikes! Wentworth Dillon, 4th Earl of Roscommon (c. 1633 – 1685) believed that a low code of morals was necessarily followed by a corresponding degradation in literature. Or maybe it’s the other way around?

Don’t want to work for the Feds? How about this one?

Those seeking permeate employment please do not apply.
Monday-Friday from 8:00-5:00. Candidate will need to have
knowledge of AP style guide and Chicago style…

I would never apply just because I have no clue how to be a ‘permeate’ employee.  In the first example, a spell-checker would have saved the day. The error in the second example wouldn’t have shown up in the spell-checker results. That mistake is purely, wrong word, wrong place. Takes that ol’ “second set of eyes” to catch a word that doesn’t belong. When writing a piece, put the words all down and then walk away for a day or two. Returning to your project fresh will help you catch this type of error.

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Yes, Pat, I’d like to buy a vowel?


Billboard on highway with misspelled word.

Sure, but just how many do you need? I am certain there is only one “a” in survivable. I must pass this billboard every day on my way home from town. The message is somber but encouraging. By God’s grace I am not afflicted by cancer or any other devastating condition but your billboard is killing me. As I approach that section of highway, the battle in my mind mounts with apprehension. Do not look! Do not look! Do not look! But it’s of no use. I look up and there is that extra “a”. It jumps out, taunting me. It dances and cavorts, gambols and frolics, daring me to notice. I search the other motorists’ faces. No one sees it! I have a nearly uncontrollable urge to stop my car in the middle of the highway and force drivers to acknowledge the mischievous letter. Am I the only one who knows, like a long-ago Shatner, teetering on the edge of The Twilight Zone and insanity? That. Thing. Was. Out. There. Finally I pass the spot where the towering billboard springs up out of the roadside pasture and I’m free once again, the only thing left of the errant “a” is its mockery seared in my memory.

Effective advertising leaves a brand impression, not frustration. Is there a publically displayed error somewhere that pushes your button? Share them with us, please, and pictures too if you have them!

The Editor Afloat is on Facebook and Twitter too.

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Consistency Matters!

Today’s project is proofreading a Web site for a company that designs Web sites. Go figure! Even they need an editor. The first thing that jumps out at me is the inconsistent use of several terms. One is e-commerce. So is it eCommerce, ecommerce, e-commerce or E-commerce? Make up my mind! My favorite and final authority on most spelling questions is the online version of the Merriam Webster dictionary. There are a few new words that have come about since the whole Internet thing started. So what does MW have to say about them? It’s e-commerce, Web site, Internet, online, and e-mail. Notice the capital letters in Web site and Internet. Why is that, do you suppose? Web is short for World Wide Web. It’s a proper noun. Anyone awake through that particular grammar class? Just as you wouldn’t use a small case letter for someone’s name just because you weren’t using their whole given name, you still capitalize Web. For example, Sally Sue Smith is Sally for short, not sally. Web site designers everywhere are using Web site, web site and website interchangeably in most English-language applications. I predict that in the next version or so, even MW will recognize “website” as a real word. In the meantime, consistency counts! Pick a version of Web site and use it the same way you mean to say the same thing all through your writing. Okay! Class is over, you can wake up now.

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Here we go…!

My best friend tells me the other day that I should take my incredibly annoying and frighteningly accurate habit of proofreading everything I see and start using it constructively. I do, I told him. I edit my author friends’ works and I edited your resume. You got a job, didn’t you? He says, yes but you need to charge money for your services. Can I do that? A quick Internet search of editing services proved to me that this function is very much alive and well. Which does not explain why almost every menu I pick up in a restaurant has misspelled meals listed (that I happily point out to the waitress) or why one of the biggest billboards in my hometown has errors on it. I guess no one got the memo, “Use your spell-checker!” Of course, spell-checkers only check for correct spelling. They do not pick out punctuation, syntax, grammar or typographical errors that correctly spelled new words. The “second set of eyes” is essential here. When an author writes his masterpiece, whether it be the next best-selling novel, a love-struck poem, Web site content, a collection of short stories, or a technical piece, he or she is considered “too close” to the work. One reads what one has in mind, not what actually made it into print. Your editor sees the words as they are written and can pick up where the spell-checker ends. A submission to a publisher must already be proofread and edited. So ~ here comes the sales pitch ~ if you are an author, either aspiring or established, you need me! I work from home so I am able to offer reasonable prices. You can find me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter or e-mail direct at editor.afloat@yahoo.com