I was feeling like a proud papa the day I shared a copy of my new textbook with a colleague. For more than two years, supported by project editors, graphic designers, marketers, and copy editors, I'd fussed over every word in that book. By now, it had to be perfect.
Beaming immodestly, I watched as my friend skimmed the table of contents, riffled through the pages, glanced at the front and back covers--and then frowned.
"College," he said, handing the book back to me. "Back cover. College is misspelled."
And so it was. In small print at the end of a blurb right smack in the middle of the back cover, the word college was spelled with just one l.
It was a long time before I could focus on anything contained in the 457 pages of that textbook. Every time I picked it up all I could see was the word colege on the back cover. It may have been printed in 10-point type, but to me the misspelled word stood a mile high in clownish neon.
Of course, I eventually got over my anger, frustration, embarrassment, and despair--about six months later when the error was corrected in the second printing. But along the way I had learned a valuable lesson about proofreading: no matter how thoroughly we examine a text, it seems there's always one more little blunder waiting to be discovered.
In other words, there's no foolproof formula for perfect proofreading every time. It's just too tempting to see what we intended to write rather than the words that actually appear on the page or screen. Still, the goal of perfection is worth pursuing, and in that spirit I offer these 10 tips to help you see (or hear) your errors before anybody else does.
For the complete article, go to Top Ten Proofreading Tips: How to Proofread Effectively.