March 8th is National Proofreading Day. I didn’t know about this—did you? It’s not on calendars (yet) and the Google doodle is still up for International Women’s Day—check it out if you haven’t, it’s a lovely, lighthearted piece. In fact, it was a new follower on my Twitter account @editforindies who alerted me to the special day.
Proofreading is an occupation that has almost disappeared from the newsroom (I should know; I’ve worked in three newsrooms!). By that I mean that wages are so low and hours so curtailed that you can’t really make a living proofreading anymore.
But although I don’t work on hard copy with a red pen anymore, we live in the days of the cyber red pen, at least, and there is still a need for proofreaders, as this graphic charmingly illustrates…
I do love words, and occasionally a typo or blooper will just leap off the page. Here are a few that I wrote down over the last year or so:
Fast foot giant (almost looks right, doesn’t it?)
800 bakers walked down Wall Street (this was a tricky one, but in the very dry, technical context it was obvious that it should have been bankers!)
A lesson or two in manors… (um, manners, perhaps?)
Her umpire waist… (since this described a dress, I was stumped for a moment and then realized the author meant Empire!)
And one of my favorites: “I grabbed my books with a drool look” (I was glad to catch this one to prevent author embarrassment. Methinks the author meant droll.)
To be honest, this is the fun part of the editing/proofreading job for me. (Fussing about em dashes, serial commas, and grammatical consistency, not so much.) Proofreaders work hard and need to be obsessive, but this work can be very rewarding. So, a shout-out to my fellow proofreaders and the people who “get” what we do.