Proofreaders: know your game

Proofreading is unique.  Unique in the sense that as well as your CV and cover letter/email containing all of the specifics of your career and experience, they also embody the quality of your work.  Before you’ve even been invited in for an interview, I’ve had a small taster for how good you are at submitting error-free documents.

Yet it’s frightening how many people have emailed me recently asking for work in this very area—my business specialises in document editing—only for their covering emails to be littered with errors.  Admittedly, if I’d received the emails from people outside the field, people not looking for related work, I would have let the mistakes pass me by.  But their context has meant that I’ve either responded with some heartfelt, cotton wool-lined guidance, or responded with a pleasantry only to confine the email to the Never hire folder.  (Actually, the latter step is a given.)

Paragraphs have lacked closing periods, proofreader has been written as two words (yet as a single word within the same email), the Oxford comma has been used whimsically, appearing in some places but not in others, hyphens have appeared instead of em dashes, and quotation marks have been used in instances where one might not even expect someone to sign them in a bar with their hands.

Some (all?) of these points might sound pedantic.  And they are.  But then proofreading is all about pedantry, and if you can’t get your covering email right, what hope do I have that you’ll fare any better with a client’s document?

Comments

4 Responses to “Proofreaders: know your game”

  1. Simon on February 24th, 2010 22:24

    How does this sit with your Lent stance…?

  2. Dan on February 24th, 2010 22:53

    It sits nicely. Not a single apostrophe error to pick up on/ignore.

  3. David P on March 11th, 2010 00:39

    Damn you, I’ve just had to read, with growing fascination, the article at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serial_comma …!

  4. David P on March 11th, 2010 00:42

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