Give your proofer a break!

by | Oct 3, 2018

“What’s the hardest part about being a proofer?”

My answer always surprises people.

It’s not doing the work.

“The hardest part is convincing people they need
a proofer, and having them listen once we’re hired!”

(Remember the story on my ‘Home’ page?)


During the 2018 midterm primaries, I noticed a local magazine listing Sunday, May 6, as Election Day instead of Tuesday, May 8.

I was one of the “… readers who let us know about the error.”

In an email, I offered to proofread for the magazine going forward.

You could hear the crickets chirping. Not even a “No, thanks” message.

A somewhat proud moment

The correction appeared in the next issue.

I felt vindicated. I didn’t feel any richer (!), but I felt vindicated.

Hmmm. The conversation around this costly-reputation-wise mistake?

I bet it wasn’t pretty! 😎

On the IT side …

Testing software and websites can be stressful projects for your proofer.

Understandably, software programmers and website developers don’t like people ‘messing with their babies.’

But, testers can’t help it if the code burps.

We don’t sit around thinking:

“Today, I’m gonna lie about what happens when I click on
button ‘A’ and see an unexpected result.
You know, just for the heckuvit.”

Please don’t take it personally when you hear bad news.

It’s the last thing we want to tell the client.

Trust me on this.

“I know my program runs. It compiled.”

Looking back over 30 years, one of my most tedious software projects (and most costly for the client) came with its very own clueless programmer.

When pages kept crashing, the project manager asked, “Did you run that before Kathie started testing?”

“Oh, yeah, I know it runs. It compiled.”


For those outside the IT arena, this is like saying (pre-baking) “I know the cookies will be OK. I mixed all the ingredients.”

The best way to save money with your proofer?

Check everything out ahead of time.

Don’t waste their time … or your money.

It happens in hard copy, too

This story is almost comical, but discovering an inexperienced editor at a U.S. magazine is nothin’ to laugh about.

An article for the November issue had a 10-question quiz.

Our task (while preparing for Thanksgiving Day) was to grade ourselves in gratitude.

The introduction contained this paragraph (bold for emphasis):

Beyond the third Thursday in November,
are you generally
a thankful person?
And do you express your gratitude to those around you?

Let’s get the day c-o-r-r-e-c-t

In the United States:

[November] + [fourth Thursday] = Thanksgiving Day

I mentioned the third-Thursday error, and asked the editor if we could discuss my helping as her ‘fresh pair of eyes’ in the future.

“We have people for that,” came the typical reply.
(Then … why are we having this conversation?)

Sadly, she still thinks Thanksgiving is the third Thursday.

Her last message ended with, “Thank you for pointing that out.”


Your Takeaway: Always use a ‘fresh pair of eyes’ to review your final work.

Note: Contact me for a copy of my one-page cheat sheet that’s all about free editing and proofreading. Write Process Flow in your subject line. No charge for the cheat sheet.

Join the Conversation: Tell us about a time you

  • Found errors after spending lots of $$ at a print shop.
  • Ran into an online glitch that had you wondering, “How’d they miss that ?”
  • Gave up trying to convince Company X it had an error(s) in a document.

Join the conversation in the comments section, below.

Let’s learn from each other!

Sharing is caring!


  1. Shirley Kufeldt

    I’m from the same school as you. My eyes spot errors like neon signs. Hate it and lose respect for the publication.

    I had a conversation with my sister. The younger generation relies in spell check but misses very basic grammar and English rules. If you watch help wanted posts they want native English speakers.

    Some things can’t be taught.

    • Kathie York

      Good points all, Shirley.
      Appreciated your comment about spell check.

      I see services promising a 24-hour turnaround for a 35,000-word document … for $25.
      Oh, yeah. They run it through a spell check. Forget about wrong words or vernacular.
      Those documents are easy to spot, aren’t they?

      Appreciate your stopping by and sharing your insights,



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Kathie York, CSQE
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