“We didn’t catch it.” An expensive lesson in proofing our own work

by | Feb 6, 2019

I no longer take on proofreading projects, but I thought you might find some non-overwhelm help, here. This stuff is still happening, and your day can turn ugly fast!


The project manager (PM) grabbed a 28-page training manual off the stack … of 200 conference copies.

She. was. livid.

She rolled up the book, brandished it like a mini sword, and gave her team the evil eye.

“Ten of us reviewed this. TEN. And we didn’t catch it.”

A budget derailed by what the PM saw as unimportant:
‘A fresh pair of eyes’ proofing


It may surprise you to discover I’m not here to wave my hand in the air, jump up and down, and say, “Here I am! Pick me! I’ll proof your work!”

We may not be the best ‘fit’ for one another, project-wise.
(If we are, that’s great. Just sayin’ … 😉 )

When it comes to our websites and other business materials, we must all remember:

We’re human, and we make mistakes (trite, but true).
It’s important to hire a tester or proofreader to find
those little things
we might miss.

Proofers save us time, money … and heartache.

A little ‘train-ing’ story

“OK, Kathie … you have my attention. Why do so many things get past our people?”

Come with me on a little journey.

In the middle of nowhere, your commuter train comes to a stop.

Conductor: “I’m sorry, but we’re waiting for a repair crew.”

You (peeking out the windows): “The track looks fine.”

Conductor: “See those crossties stacked over there? They weren’t installed, and the construction team didn’t catch it. We’ll be underway as soon as the inspector certifies the repairs.”

Eventually, you’re moving, but at a maddening non-pace.

The inspector checks everything (inch-by-inch) as the train creeps along.

"WHY didn't we have this proofed?!"

“WHY didn’t we have this proofed?!”

Here’s how it all plays out

In the editing and proofing world, ‘crossties’ are wrangled by your

• Tester (website links, software, and other ‘electronics’).
• Editor (hard copy, ebooks, website text, etc.).

Your proofer is the ‘fresh pair of eyes,’ the final, inch-by-inch inspector.

It doesn’t take much …

… to derail a reputation. After that train trip, you tell your friend … what?

“Wow! I got to work fast!”
You say, “You are not gonna believe ….”

Be the best

No matter your product, make sure no one says, “You are not gonna believe …,” about you unless the statement ends on a positive note.

Bad news travels fast, and that genie rarely returns to its bottle.

Let’s actively pursue excellence.


What was the issue at the beginning of this post?

The material no longer matched the
published-to-the-world conference agenda.
The manuals needed an expedited ($$) rewrite/reprint.

Here’s the deal:

When the same people create and review website pages or written materials, the ‘obvious’ can get lost in the shuffle.

Everyone knows what’s supposed to be there (links, text, etc.).

For this business owner:

[In-house editing/proofing] + [Expedited rewrite/reprint] = [$$]


Be careful out there!

Your Takeaway: Always use a ‘fresh pair of eyes’ to review final work. And the next time you see a railroad track? Think about your editor and proofer!

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.

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Kathie York, CSQE
Queen of Non-Overwhelm
Goals Accountability Instructor

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