Every two weeks we’re sharing tips for editors from the desk of Douglas Gibson. Good for those starting out or old hands who need a reminder, these reminders form an engaging guide for sharp-eyed wordsmiths.
Leonard Lee, of Lee Valley Tools, once startled an Editors’ Association of Canada meeting by announcing that editors proofreading the vitally important catalogue on which his company depended were instructed to read each line backwards, comparing it with the original. It was a striking affirmation of just how unreliable most of us are in this task. Our eyes and our brains fill in the missing letters or words, or see what they expect to sea. The trick is to proofread assuming that there are indeed mistakes hidden there, and that the text is guilty until proven innocent.