The Search Guru chats with K.D. Sullivan, CEO of Untreed Reads Publishing
For four years, I edited a full-color print magazine, one that was costly to produce. The tone of the publication was friendly, cheerful, upbeat and neighborly, while the audience consisted largely of conservative women in their 50s.
In one issue, we were including an article about a prestigious art museum and the museum had loaned us slides of numerous pieces of art to choose from as illustrations. The art director and I agreed upon our choices, and I wrote captions for them. The night before the magazine was ready to go to press, though, I heard the art director sounding frantic, telling me to look at the photo of the vase we’d selected.
So, I took another quick glance. “Yeah, still looks good to me,” I say, going back to whatever else I was doing.
He repeats, “Look at the vase.”
“I already did,” I impatiently reply, thinking there were far better ways for me to spend my time.
“Kelly Sagert,” he snaps, raising his voice sharply at me, something he’d never done before. “You look at that vase again right now!”
Knowing he was upset but not understanding why, I took a much closer look – and then I realized that the decoration on the vase, which he and I had earlier assumed were abstract squiggles, was really a graphic fertility symbol, one that would have offended our readers – which would have really upset our boss, who would have invested a significant amount of money in printing this full-color print publication.
Proofreading. Even when you think you’ve done a good job, you probably should do it again.
So, we at The Search Guru decided to ask other people in the communications industry about what proofreading tips and experiences they could share.
Nothing is straightforward, is it?
One strategy that I’ve used over the years ends up being a common one for people who proofread professionally in some capacity. Here it is:
- Proofread backwards! ”Read it backwards, sentence by sentence. What you are looking for is missing words, confused tenses, inconsistent punctuation –these can be easier to spot if you are not reading it for sense, but instead concentrating on each individual line out of context.” (Bridget Whelan, author of Back to Creative Writing School)
Bridget also brings up a key point that nobody else mentioned. Here it is, in her own words: “The hardest mistake to spot is also the one that could cause the most misunderstandings: leaving out the word not. I was once an agony aunt