Tuesday, July 7, 2015

"Proof reading for quality control"

Had "Step 2" been applied to the text under "Step 1," we might've been getting somewhere.

Monday, April 27, 2015


Restaurants increasingly offer options suitable for customers with gluten intolerances and allergies. But glutton-free options? 

The suspicious quotation marks around "family members" earn bonus points for this restaurant menu.

Thanks to my anonymous reader for sending this one in!

Friday, April 10, 2015


A (thankfully!) rare find: a blatant grammatical error on permanent (at least, non-temporary) signage in a national chain store. 

If you're uncertain what's wrong this sign, check out Grammar Girl's post on apostrophes and plurals.

Thursday, February 26, 2015


In case the photo is too small for easy reading, the bullet says:

"Tests of current academic achievement (tests of various aspects of reading, spellind and writing, paper and pencil math or math reasoning, oral language skill);"

This bullet is on a website for a business that provides educational support for kids who struggle in school.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

"Strategic impotence"

Sometimes, spell-check won't save you

"[Y]ou will be played a central role in drafting and editing various documents and materials of strategic impotence to the company."

I'd consider adding "assist with proofreading advertisements" to this job description.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

"Clipettes pinch ass"

I'll admit it - that was a click-bait headline - but it comes directly from this sign on a store display blog reader Renee noticed when she went looking for hair clips for her toddler.

Key word: assorted
Sometimes, companies use software to automatically generate text - and in this case, to automatically abbreviate it, as necessary. Auto-abbreviations can be confusing, but customers are usually able to figure them out. Here, we can figure it out, but it's unintentionally funny.

Not always so funny

Last year, Coca-Cola Ltd. had to apologize after an auto-text mix-up led to an offensive expression being printed on the cap of a vitaminwater bottle. The company was printing one English word and one French word on every bottle cap, and had proofread all the English words and all the French words... but hadn't considered how the two might be read in either language when put together. The auto-text did the rest.

Automation makes things easier, but it's not foolproof

This supermarket and Coca-Cola are far from the only organizations that have been embarrassed because their automatic communication tools have done what they're meant to do: complete tasks without a human having to be involved. Whether it's examples like these, or automatically-generated Tweets, there are many ways automatic communications can backfire.

Whenever you plan to use these, you're well-advised to build in some checks and balances where human beings have to either troubleshoot potential problems before they happen (for example, in the vitaminwater example, having someone read the words in each language from the perspective of someone who speaks the other language, to spot any issues), or to approve automatic messages before they are sent.

Thanks for the submission, Renee!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

I'm no mathematician, but...

In this passage from the November 14th issue of a very well-known American news magazine, 82 is, apparently, greater than 86.

I'm not certain whether this is an error of the writer (possibly distracted while writing?) or of the typesetter/designer, but either way, a good copy edit should have surfaced the error before it was published.

When you're editing, you need to check your text in a few different ways:

1) Is the content factual?
2) Are all the words spelled correctly, numbers presented accurately, etc.?
3) Is the grammar correct?

Errors can creep in at any stage of the process

I was shocked the first time I received a "final proof" of an annual report from a designer only to discover new errors had surfaced in the text. They were minor changes - in fact, they were instances in which the designer had decided to "help" my client by "improving" the sentences (note the use of sarcastic quotation marks - see last week's post on this blog).

We caught them all and changed them back before it went to print - but only because I was proofreading the whole text one more time (as opposed to simply confirming our last round of changes had been made accurately).

Once the document is published, it's published. You can sometimes withdraw it to correct an error - but often, you can't. My advice: always give a text one full, final proofread before signing off.