Do proofreaders make mistakes?

1 Feb

I know we are very close to perfect, of course, but proofreaders are also human! I know it sounds rather unbelievable that perhaps we could make mistakes…however, occasionally it does happen. But why?

We occassionally do make mistakes...

We occasionally do make mistakes…

Mistakes often occur within our own writing…in fact I got caught out the other day on Twitter with a mistake, and the picture above shows exactly how I felt. The reason that mistakes often occur within our own work, is that we are not fresh to it. When you are close to something, your eye somehow reads what is meant to be there, and not necessarily what is there.

Why should you hire a proofreader?

One of the biggest reasons to hire a proofreader is the fact that they are fresh to your content and are skilled at what they do. Being fresh to the content makes it much easier for proofreaders to spot mistakes than it would be for you, the writer.

I guess the question to ask is whether a proofreader could make a mistake if you hire them in a professional capacity? As I said earlier, I know we are close to perfect, but it is possible!  The chances of errors occurring with a proofreader are far less likely. Remember though to be kind, we are human and occasionally we make mistakes!

Should you accept mistakes?

It depends on how many mistakes and how often they occur? If you hire a proofreader and their work is littered with errors, then you clearly need to look for someone else, as this is not acceptable.

One or two errors may be forgivable, but should never be a regular occurrence.

I remember quite some time ago that I had missed an ‘s’ off the end of a word whilst proofreading a 67,000 word thesis. I sent it through cyberspace to the proud owner, and after the fact decided to do my fourth glance over the document. I was mortified that I had actually missed this! Luckily I spotted the error before the author did, quickly amended it and sent it winging its way back through cyberspace with head held low.

So, in short, we are human and mistakes do happen. However, as I mentioned before, this should never be a regular occurrence…if it is a regular occurence, that’s when you should get the next person in pronto!


3 Responses to “Do proofreaders make mistakes?”

  1. Jane Kline February 1, 2013 at 9:35 am #

    I can concur; I’m often upset with myself when I re-read and see a proofreading error: Haste makes waste!

    • capetowncopywriter February 1, 2013 at 10:21 am #

      Absolutely! When it happens it feels like your heart has jumped up to your throat! Thanks for the comment Jane.

  2. karenselliott February 2, 2013 at 1:32 am #

    This is so right on. Yes, we make mistakes. I look at some of my old blogs and groan. Heck, I look at some of my recent blogs and groan! And you are so right – when we are reading our own stuff, we tend to miss a lot of the small stuff. But fresh writing – writing from others – we have no expectations or opinions. I pick out problems in others’ writing, and then my editor (Shawn MacKenzie) finds the same problems in MY writing! That’s why I hired her to edit and proof my book collections.

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