Editing Tips from Douglas Gibson (#22)

In this recurring feature, 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 guidelines form an engaging guide for sharp-eyed wordsmiths.

Tip #22
Recently I came across a carefully printed sign in the well-known educational establishment OISE.  It invited patrons who had used its services to pass along comments, including “criticisms” and “complements.” My comments were not complimentary.

Should this sort of spelling error matter? My response is that this was not a scrawled sign in a small-time grocery (“Cabages”), but a designed, carefully printed sign that had gone through several stages of checking by educated professionals. The resulting error reflected badly on them, and thus on OISE. I’m certain that you don’t have to be a professional editor to have this reaction. Spelling still matters to a large proportion of readers, which means that it still matters.