Human error – and why you need a human proofreader

12/09/2017
Written by Denny

There’s no ignoring AI. Due to a recent public altercation, we know that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is largely optimistic about the future of artificial intelligence, while tech giant Elon Musk is calling it humanity’s "biggest existential threat". In the meantime, Amazon’s Alexa is cheerfully controlling our households and trucks are learning how to drive themselves.    

Automation is becoming a bigger part of our day-to-day lives and it applies to all kinds of industries – including writing. Google is already planning to roll out ‘robot journalism’ at a local level and increasingly sophisticated software is making its mark in the editorial arena. Once, there was just the red and/or green squiggly line that would indicate errors in your Word doc; now there are all sorts of apps that promise to correct your mistakes and clean up your copy.

But at Accuracy Matters, we’re not too worried about The Machines. You’ll see from our logo that we are The Proofreading People after all – and we intend to stay that way.

Below are just some of the reasons why we believe it’s always a good idea to have a human pair of eyes look over your work.

 

We listen to you (with our human ears)

Sure – grammar, punctuation and spelling tend to follow a set of clear rules, but proofreading goes far beyond adhering to a one-size-fits-all convention. Maybe you have a house style that denotes a preference for writing out numbers. Or you want to use American spelling. Does an automated proofreader know, for instance, that you might favour a lower-case ‘g’ when taking about governments in general, but upper case when referring to a specific government? And can it then check that these stylistic decisions are consistent throughout the whole document?

We can ensure that your writing is a) accurate and b) in line with your particular brief. And if you have any queries about our suggested amends, we’re always happy to talk you through them (with our human mouths).

We understand the context (and your human readers)

In a previous blog post we covered the potential pitfalls of relying on spellchecker to spot those devious words that are spelled correctly, but in the wrong context. Not every tool out there will know that you’re (not your) talking about your manager (and not your manger). And though some will be able to discern the meaning of your sentence and correct these typos accordingly, most software won’t have a full understanding of what, why and for whom you are writing.

We proofread with your readers in mind. We clarify and polish your writing so that it’s fit for human consumption.

We look at the bigger picture (and beyond)

A document is rarely just made up of words. There may be images, captions, headings and tables. We can look at all of this, checking that the layout is as it should be, that all bullet points are aligned, that footnotes are formatted correctly and that the entire text flows smoothly. We can even manage the whole project for you, overseeing other elements such as formatting, design and indexing.  

We have experience (and can easily adapt)

Algorithms are smart and their capacity to acquire new knowledge is no doubt impressive. Sometimes, though, what you need is that bit of human insight that comes from years of experience, learning and a genuine love of language. We’ve worked on a wide range of projects and a whole host of specialist subjects. So whether we’re marking up a 500-page manuscript by hand or proofreading a PowerPoint presentation, we adapt ourselves to the specific task and make the most of our accumulated know-how.

In short, we’re not going anywhere. Till we’re all plugged into the Matrix, feel free to give us a call.