Proofreading: Avoiding The Appearance Of Being An Idiot

I often find blogs like The Texas Rambler, Observations of a Perpetual Motorcyclist, and Straight, No Chaser, among others, quite interesting. More interesting, in fact, than most of the major blog sites (“major” in terms of numbers of followers and views only).

But there are also a couple major sites that I regularly look in on. For a number of reasons I am not going to name those sites. I’ll call them Photo Lab and Online, changing their names to protect the innocent and guilty alike. 

Both of the major sites have a wide menu of articles, though Online’s menu is a bit wider because it has multiple authors. Online rarely publishes articles containing language mistakes, typos, or tortured sentence structures. There is someone filling the function of Editor at that publication. Someone who knows the importance of proofreading work before publishing.

In contrast, Photo Lab frequently publishes articles containing language mistakes, typos, and tortured sentences. The site’s single author is a working photographer, a professional who has a unique point of view. But unfortunately, and despite his occasional description of himself as a Writer, he hasn’t caught on to the fact that Writers proofread their work, either themselves or via an Editor. It is obvious that he writes at high speed, then quickly publishes without proofing.

The problem with a lack of proofreading is that language mistakes, typos, and tortured sentences stop the flow of the narrative for the reader. The mistakes have the same effect as off-camera sounds of a multiple-automobile collision, the screech of tires and crunch of crumpling metal, in the middle of a Jane Austen movie. The mistakes stop the reader, who has to pick up the flow of the narrative again, the movement of the story, in order to continue.

When I’m the reader and I get stopped by language mistakes while reading Photo Lab, I immediately think, “What an idiot!” I then have to remind myself that the author is not an idiot, that all other evidence is contrary. The author is simply a sloppy writer, a writer who doesn’t proofread his work. I then continue reading. I keep hoping that the author will eventually “catch on” and start proofing his work. I’m an optimist.

Proofreading 2If you read this blog on a regular basis, you will very occasionally notice a mistake, usually a typo, but that typo will disappear quite quickly because of my proofreading process. Since I don’t have an Editor, I proofread an article at least 3 times before publishing. In general, I try to avoid looking like an idiot, though I’m not always successful. After publication, I proofread again and quickly correct any mistakes that slipped past my earlier reviews. 

Since I was two years old it has been my policy to avoid looking like an idiot. I have the idea that it is a good policy (I’ll end this here now, since I have to proofread it again).