The proofreader’s paradox
As a proofreader, I have an irrational fear that haunts me regularly. Here it is.
On page four of a literary work is a reference to something that appears on “page five”. But the thing being referenced appears at the very top of page six. So I change the reference from “page five” to “page six”. All is good.
But in so doing, because the word “six” is shorter than “five”, and word and line breaks being what they are, everything thereafter shunts up a little, and the thing that previously appeared at the top of page six now appears at the bottom of page five.
Without changing other aspects of the document, I am unable to correctly reference the thing being referenced.
I shut my laptop, find a seat on the floor in the corner of the room, focus on an indistinct point on the opposite wall while hugging my legs, and rock backwards and forwards as tears stream down my face.
Thus far in my career, the above scenario has never happened. But I imagine it’s only a matter of time.