Thursday, 22 September 2011

Proofreader required: preferably not the end user

From time to time I deliver presentations about printing to Printers and Print Buyers. The events are usually good fun. They provide a chance for the attendees to hear about solutions that other people in similar positions are using to overcome the issues which can occur in a typical printing environment.

One issue that seems resolute in its refusal to be overcome, however, is that of spotting typos. Or, at least, spotting typos in time.

In the presentations, I use the gaffe below as an example of how a very obvious error can somehow sneak through the system despite all the proofreading checks and double checks that are carried out during its production. Often it’s not until thousands of copies have been distributed and delivered that someone eventually notices the mistake.

It has to be said that the important phrase here is spotting typos 'in time'. We're talking about newspapers and time is the main constraint in their production. The paper either hits the streets dead on time or it's dead in the water.

Spotted it yet?

Of course, you’ll be able to see straight away that there should be an R in VIRGIL.

OK. Only joking. Yes, it should read BEDSIDE rather than BESIDE. It’s one of those typos that won’t be highlighted by a spell checker since 'beside' is a real word.

The fact is that printers make mistakes. We always have and we always will. We’re human and it’s just a simple truth that it happens.

Most good printers would ask that you judge them not on the errors themselves, although printers that consistently make mistakes are to be avoided. But on the way in which they strive to rectify the situation as and when those errors are discovered.

One obvious solution is for printers to employ a good, old fashioned, trustworthy proofreader.

Sadly these days, a dying breed.

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