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Monday, June 4, 2012

Why 'Amercia' needs copy editors | Merrill Perlman, CNN.com

Whatever their acclaim and position, all writers need editors. I don't have one for Garbl's Writing Center, so if you spot a typo, unclear message or possible error, please let me know. 
Perlman's article reminded me of that statement, which I have on various pages of my website. Perlman begins with the latest embarrassing news for former businessman Mitt Romney, about a typo that when viral on one of his website apps. It referred to "A Better Amercia."

Perlman notes that it's an easy typo to make, but he stresses: " almost all typos are easy to make."

The article goes on to discuss the growth of the Web and social media, in which more and more people and firms are publishing information without someone assigned to copy-edit and proofread articles before they go online. And so, more and more typos -- and outright errors -- are appearing.

Perlman also discusses the poor decisions being made by the regular news media to eliminate or reduce their staff of copy editors. He writes:
People reading newspapers and news sites can empathize. They're seeing lots of typos, as well as errors of grammar, fact and logic — many more than they would have seen before news organizations decided that they did not need so many copy editors. No other job classification has suffered so many losses as the news business downsizes (except, perhaps, for classified ad takers, who have been craigsdelisted).
His article is mostly advocating for the value of keeping copy editors employed, and his arguments are accurate. It's pure foolishness to deny his points.

But I want to end by stressing that it's near foolishness for any of us -- not just publishers -- to send off an article, blog post, email, report or other piece of written work without carefully reading and editing it, looking for that inevitable error or typo. And the final essential act before pushing "Send": proofreading those edits.

(I should note that I write that last paragraph also as a reminder to myself. I recall too much self-perpetuated embarrassment of my own!)

Of course, the most effective way to avoid embarrassment is to get someone else to edit and proofread for our bloopers ... before publication!


For more articles on editorial style, check out the related tab at the top of my blog. It'll take you to my daily paper, In Style: Tips for Writers, Editors. 

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