Who checks your copy?

7 replies
I was reminded of the problems that copy mistakes cause when I read a story in National Geographic Magazine in December 2011 about the King James Bible. The story covers how popular this version is now and how it got off to a slow start partly because each edition had lots of errors.

In a 1631 version, there were two glaring mistakes. Deuteronomy 5:24 meant to celebrate god's greatness. Instead it read: "And ye said, Behold, the Lord our God hath shewed us his glory, and his great asse." And in the same edition, in Exodus 20:14, they left out a crucial word with the result: "Thou shalt commit adultery." According to the Geographic, "the printers were heavily fined" for that last mistake.

But my point is---what systems do you have in place to catch your written errors? I think I read Joe Sugarman say he had his sister who had taught English check all his ads. Do you have a regular person that checks whether the piece works overall as well as for errors?

Many professional copy editors say changing the font to a large point Courier makes it easier to catch mistakes. I find printing the copy out points out problems that I didn't see onscreen but I haven't tried the different font.

Some people read the copy backwards and say that helps. And I know reading it out loud helps me. Anything that works well for you ?

Then again, having others check copy doesn't always catch the problem either. I once wrote a story for a local magazine where I misspelled the name of a shopping center named Libbie Place as Libby Place. The editor didn't catch the error nor did two other people he had check it. But one who did was an elderly lady by the name of Libbie. Her dad named the road after her many years ago and that's how the shopping center got its name. I didn't have to but I called and apologized. She was very gracious---said she hadn't meant to make a fuss--- and I did a story about her.
#checks #copy
  • Profile picture of the author Raydal
    I normally do my own editing before the client does his of course.

    As you mentioned, changing anything about the copy helps
    you to pick up mistakes--the font, the color, the program,
    printing it out etc.

    I would write in MS Word, transfer to DreamWeaver, and with
    each change I'll pick up new errors. Just by resting the copy
    and reading later also helps.

    I've seen mistakes in the most reviewed and scholarly papers,
    so a perfect piece is asymptotic.

    -Ray Edwards
    The most powerful and concentrated copywriting training online today bar none! Autoresponder Writing Email SECRETS
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  • Profile picture of the author staceythewriter
    And if you don't have time to leave it for a day or two, simply stop; put it down; find something totally unrelated to do (exercise, go to a movie, do your laundry, gab on the phone, socialize on FB, etc.) for a few hours, then return to it and proof it. I find it's better when I do something physical (golf, run, etc.) during the "break." Good luck!

    Stacey Mathis
    Stacey Mathis Copywriting
    The Copywriter's Highway to Success
    Twitter: @staceythewriter

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  • Profile picture of the author isharky
    I posted my copy on the forum here and some great warriors helped me find my mistakes see thread here.

    Is there a way to pay someone to check it? I think something like Libby and Libbie is one of those things even hired people cannot find.
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    • Profile picture of the author Paul Bottoms
      There's a group of people who are copy editors but I don't think they do much if any advertising copy. They edit things like books, dissertations, etc.

      I recently read an interesting thread somewhere by these copy editors, much of it bitching about how many authors are inconsiderate slugs.

      Oh yeah, I also remember a discussion about whether "handjob" should be one word or two. Sorry, I forget if there was an exciting conclusion to that .
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  • Profile picture of the author BrentDotCom
    My editing skills aren't as good as they used to be, for whatever reason. Brain starts getting ahead of my digits, which is the opposite of what happens when I'm with chicks.
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