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Ovation: It’s Never Too Late For Proof Reading.

03/05/2014

ProofreadingWhen I was in high school, I was an assistant editor for the school newspaper.  I had several responsibilities including helping with the layout of each issue and writing “filler” articles but my function was primarily that of “proof reader”.  I’ve always been considered a good proof reader and I take a great deal of pride in my abilities.  Over the years, I’m certain that there has been more than one typo that I overlooked but so far it hasn’t taken more than one hundred sixty years to find one.

In yesterday’s edition of The New York Times, a correction to an article that originally appeared on January 20, 1853 was published after a Twitter user unearthed an old article from The Times archives.  The article in question told the story of Solomon Northup, a free African-American man who was kidnapped and sold into slavery … the same story upon which 12 Years a Slave, the movie based on Northup’s memoir that won the best picture Oscar at last Sunday’s Academy Awards, was based.

The problem was that the 1853 article spelled Northup’s name two different ways … it appeared as “Northrop” in the body of the article and “Northrup” in the headline.

After the Oscars focused attention on the story, and the Twitter user brought the error to light on Monday, it spread quickly on social media.

My proof reading skills are certainly not as sharp as they once were, what with the invention of spell check and auto-correct, but I still like to think that the last part of writing is re-reading.  I fear that far too many writers forget this final step.  Proof reading, after all, is just as important today as it was in 1853.

Are you a good proof reader?

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4 Comments
  1. Every once in awhile, I will click on an old post from those noted at the bottom of the most recent post. Invariably, I will find a typo or a poor choice of words. I do try to go back and correct them, but they still slip through. So, to answer your question, “not good enough” would be an appropriate response. BTG

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  2. thedogs'mother permalink

    I am a good proof reader as I have written for pay at one time in my life. I was also blessed with several dyslexics in the family. My youngest could not independently read and write until age 13. The fact that he was highly advanced in math and science soothed his soul. This weekend he is coming home so his sister, her bbf (anthropology majors) and I can proofread his latest paper.

    It is my one big complaint about public education and our state. All the high stakes writing tests he has had to pass and portfolios he has had to put together. As he said once, ‘Computer Engineers don’t have to know English.’ The high stakes tests were abandoned after his year was held to them but not after they wrecked havoc with him. This college portfolio will probably cost us an extra $6k in tuition. But he’s worth every penny. (And he fixes my computer…)

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