While you can learn to proofread, the vast majority of professional proofreaders would probably agree with me that the ability to spot typos and errors is actually a gift, something you’re born with, rather than a learned skill. In fact, it’s probably more like a curse – because when you are a natural proofreader you can’t just switch off the eagle eyes!
I discovered this on a recent family holiday. Much to my children’s horror, wherever we went I was constantly spotting errors! I guess I should have been totally off duty and kept them to myself, but it’s difficult to resist blurting out “They’ve made a mistake here!” whenever you see a typo!
The worst example was a leaflet for a country park that we visited. In four places “disabled” was spelt “disadled” and there were two or three other spelling mistakes on the flyer too. Did it stop us visiting the park? No. Did it change my perception of the place? Yes, a little bit. It all comes down to attention to detail – if the owners of that park are a bit sloppy when it comes to detail, does that affect the way they approach health and safety etc? Who knows.
It seems that wherever you go, whatever you do, there are typos and errors – and us proofreaders just can’t help spotting them. On a shopping trip a while ago I noticed that a big poster on the wall advertising a broadband service actually talked about “braodband”. A leaflet handed to me at a school meeting last night had two typos on it, in a very prominent position. And twice in recent weeks I’ve spotted typos on people’s business cards – one of them in the email address!
Fortunately I’m not the only person in the world with this particular curse, but we may be few and far between. It took at least two weeks for someone to notice the error on this road sign on the busy A429!
I’d love to hear about any very public typos you’ve spotted!