Proofreading: Catch mistakes before they cause a crisis

April 6, 2013 By Naif L. Bartlett University of Missouri Conferences

A crowd so large it spilled into the Hilton’s hallway attended the proofreading session given Friday by John Braun, Sherri Hildebrandt and Sherrie Voss Matthews.

Using examples of botched headlines and social media posts, some of which so funny that audience members couldn’t help but laugh, the trio gave tips to help copy editors and proofreaders catch common mistakes that can sometimes slip into published copy.

They also made the point that copy editors don’t just edit print stories anymore, and there are more than spelling and grammatical errors to look for.

Here were the main taking points from their breakout session:

- Make sure links take you to the right place on Web and social media.

- Don’t mess up something easy because you’re focusing on something else you know you always mess up.

- Make sure you’re looking for obvious errors as well as the subtle ones.

- Don’t be intimidated by math.

- Be careful with juxtaposition. For example, don’t put an ad for a firearms show next to a story about Sandy Hook.

- Use your coworkers as more sets of eyes for a story. Some of them may even be experts on certain subjects.

- Try reading sentences in reverse. It makes you think harder and concentrate more.

- If the voice in your head doubts something, listen to it and check before moving on.

- As always, make sure everything — including and especially headlines — is spelled correctly.

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