Author: Joe Jansen, Proofreader
In the advertising world, proofreaders can seem like an uptight bunch. Actually, most of us are human.
One thing a good proofreader isn’t: an enabler. That’s why, for better or worse, you’re likely to get an (over)explanation for some corrections we make – usually for persistent errors. It’s to teach and to improve the work, not to show off or talk down.
Sure, it’s easy to correct the same old mistakes and move on, but it’s a step better to fix it at the source. If you had a leaky spigot, you wouldn’t just keep dumping the drip-catch bucket every day – you’d attempt to repair the $%*@!&# thing, right?
“But Uncle Pal Joey,” you say, “you’re the expert. I don’t know a predicative adjective from a reflexive pronoun.” Relax. This tip is simple, and one that can be practiced with little effort around your agency. It’s being brand-aware at its most basic level: not in front of the client, but rather while in the office.
Emails. Server folders. File names. Job requests. Heck, even instant messaging, I say. Too often, these ordinary slices of our workday are treated much too casually. We slide into shorthand and shoptalk as easily as a pair of buttered sweats. Acronyms, abbreviations, hasty instructions…we’ve all been there. And, true, it’s comfortable and has a place.
But it’s not a matter of “you know what I meant.” It’s about building simple second-nature precision in the workplace. Spell the client’s name correctly – every time – down to the periods, apostrophes and, um, non-spaces. Be exact with campaign names, initiatives and slogans, so everybody on the project knows from the get-go what is correct. Double-check that revised ad copy; is it written exactly how it’s wanted, including casing and punctuation? (I’m looking at you, MR Random CAPs)
Every shop in the world puts its best foot forward to clients – it just makes sense to take that same position every day when we’re away from them. As coaches are fond of saying, “Practice like you play.” If you do, you win. We all win. Even uptight proofreaders.