Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Spell check and proofreading can save your reputation

I think you've all already figured out that I'm an uptight nerd - particularly when it comes to proofreading, spelling and feminine products. So it will be no surprise to anyone that back in high school, I was on the school newspaper staff. In fact, for my senior year I wasn't just on the newspaper staff, I was the Edit-Nerd-in-Chief.

Now, we did some hard-hitting news stories back in those days. I particularly remember a thought-provoking piece on a 200-lb behemoth dog named Zeus, who belonged to one of the teachers. One edition, I had an excellent editorial on moving the band from the home side of the football stadium to the visitor side. I had a real nose for news back then. And then, as the icing on our journalistic layer cake, six of our eight pages were dedicated to sports. Despite the fact I was pretty sure the newspaper staff and my parents were the only people who actually read our sad little paper, one thing I was always picky about when I did copy editing was spelling. I didn't want our readers to be distracted from our in-depth reporting of the home-room volleyball game or the Great Cafeteria Scandal of 1989 by our reluctance to use a dictionary. (FYI, the GCS of 1989 was that it turned out we actually HAD a cafeteria that no one ever ate in. Who knew? God bless open campus lunchtimes and Taco Villa.) Anyway, I wanted our writers to have pride in their work, but personally, I knew that as Edit-Nerd-in-Chief, the quality of the paper reflected on MY reputation, regardless of the names on the individual stories' bylines. And really, it's all about me.

Twenty-odd years later, when correcting spelling mistakes is as quick as clicking a button (you kids and your Spell Check), you'd think those reputation ruining errors would have gone the way of the T-Rex and the cassette tape, but no. They still happen, and I have two cautionary tales in typos to make you ALWAYS re-read before you hit send.

First, I work in the office that issues student refunds. I had a co-worker a few years back whose fingers and brain just couldn't work together when she sent an email. Now, imagine you're a broke 19-year-old who really needs money for beer and pizza tuition and fees and you get an email that says "refunds are now being processed today." You'd probably jump for joy and go write a few hot checks for your beer and pizza tuition and fees, assuming that the direct deposit of your refund would hit your bank before the checks did. Then you'd find out (after a handful of overdraft fees) that that email was supposed to say "refunds are not being processed today." ONE FREAKING LITTLE LETTER was the difference between very happy students and super duper pissed off students. That email went out to less than ten students, but their wrath was really nasty...and for good reason. To this day, I still shudder when I think of it.

My second tale of "for the love all things good and holy: proof read, proof read, proof read" comes from an unsent message to my mom from a few days back. We had been talking about our data plan for our tablets and I was attempting to tell her I was going to make some changes. Except I had one MAJOR typo. I don't think my mom knows what twerking is...which means if I had sent this message without proofreading, I would have been in for an extremely awkward conversation involving the words "backside" and "Miley Cyrus" in which I attempted to explain it to her without dying of pure mortification. Nobody needs that. (And now you have an image of me twerking stuck in your head. Ain't nobody getting any sleep tonight.)


Tweak some things on the plan, dammit.

So, take it from your favorite Edit-Nerd-in-Chief, proofreading can save your reputation...and your mother's innocence.

6 comments:

  1. And what if she texts "me too" back? You'd have to take a day off work, to huddle in a corner and whimper.

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  2. No. Just no. Ack. Brain bleach. Now.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Then you should definitely not watch the "Elders React to Twerking" video:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eTOmr9LAACk

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    2. A co-worker sent me this gem of Storm Troopers twerking.

      http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/weird-news/stormtroopers-twerking-video-miley-cyrus-3048890#.UuZ5GLTnbcs

      Delete
  3. Proofread, proofread, proofread. You know practice make twerkfect.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That sounds like something my mom would say.

      Delete