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Wave or wipeout? Barrel or backwash? Ask your friendly proofreader

It's not only high-profile projects that can benefit from a proofreader.

It’s not only high-profile projects that can benefit from a proofreader.

That’s because a good proofreader doesn’t just provide a ‘safety net’ for grammar and typos; they notice other things – a bit like a surfer who learns how to read waves and weather as well as balancing on the board. Proofreaders hone skills such as diplomacy and common sense – talents that benefit any project.

If you are going to ride the wave …

A case in point – a relative recently went to great trouble and expense to put together a family history, with meticulous attention to dates and places. They collated the material as a short, wiro-bound booklet, and produced multiple digital print copies, just in time for Christmas. Most family members knew all the top-line history, but it was a lovely gift to spark other memories. Brilliant!

… don’t forget to test the waters

There was only one problem – they jumped on the publication wave without testing the waters: no one checked the final draft. In the few hours it took me to read the booklet, I noticed some inconsistency in the detail devoted to different stories. There were specific, personal details about one couple’s marriage that were not in line with the level of information flow for other family members. Maybe the researcher wanted to add ‘colour’ to the unedited notes; perhaps it was just an oversight.

… and watch out for backwash

I certainly felt uneasy enough to contact the authors. They were horrified to discover the discrepancy. And while there was no huge expense in re-typesetting and reprinting – which they agreed was the best solution – the greater cost was the embarrassment and potential emotional damage caused by their publishing ‘wipeout’!

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