Eats Shoots and Leaves vs. Eats, Shoots and Leaves.
What a difference one comma can make in terms of readability and even meaning.
The above is the title of Lynne Truss’ book about grammar. Like many people, I am on social media, and notice misspellings and typographical errors. I don’t actually correct these errors, as I understand that people often dictate posts and messages into their phones. It does seem to me, though, that proofreading has fallen on hard times. Using my own skills, I attempt to help when appropriate.
Naturally, I proofread my own papers when in school, and even other classmates’ writing occasionally. The first time I remember realizing this is my particular skill is in college. If only I’d been on the college yearbook staff!
In my current nostalgia, brought about by remembering happy times before COVID-19 lockdowns, I’ve revisited college yearbooks and unfortunately noticed many errors. I even took to marking corrections in my old yearbooks. After so many years, it wouldn’t hurt anyone, right?
Fast forward to 2007, when I put myself out as someone who can do proofreading. I had the privilege—and it is always a privilege—to proofread someone’s doctoral thesis proposal. Through the years I proofread regularly as part of my duties as a customer service representative (this fell under the heading of “other duties as assigned”). In 2015, I started Eagle Harbor Editing, and have edited—and written —blog posts for a digital marketing company in California.
I’ve heard over the years that mistakes in writing can undermine credibility. To a certain extent, I believe that’s true. But such errors can be corrected, with a close eye on the text, before the content is public. I endeavor to be tough on errors, but gentle and gracious with writers.
Written by Wynne Jacobson of Eagle Harbor Editing