The Editorial Apartment


Universal things: Language and communication

The Daily Prompt from The Daily Post, titled Money for Nothing, asks readers to describe their ultimate job: “What is it that you love? What fulfills you?”

I don’t know what my dream job is. I’m still looking for it. I may not really have one. My diverse interests have a common thread of globality, something of importance to everyone across cultures. I’m interested in health and nutrition, in international relations, in languages, in traveling. I like animals and plants; I like the sun and its warmth on my back. I like bringing people together, despite my occasional grumpiness and non–people person behaviors. I like seeing and experiencing new things. I like cooking and making things with my hands. I like foods from other cultures. I love airports. And when at work, I like to keep busy.

My dream job at the moment might involve food and learning how to bake professionally. It might involve learning more in depth about nutrition. In the past, I’ve thought about nursing and wanted to know how to draw blood. I’ve also wanted to take serious sewing classes, so I could understand how my clothes were made.

Right now though, I’m a copy editor of marketing communications. That means I work on all sorts of advertising, including all things digital and all things printed. I am part of a team of creative people who produce those brochures you get at your doctor’s office, or all that information you read on the websites of the companies whose products you buy, or the posts on their blogs.

I edited that billboard you just drove by. I reviewed that newsletter sent by your local hospital, and I copyedited those e-newsletters from businesses whose mailing lists you’ve joined. I was responsible for making sure the posters and banners at that convention center event you went to had a clear message and that the survey you took to win a prize contained questions that made sense. As a copy editor, I am responsible, along with a team of writers, designers, proofreaders, and translators, for helping to ensure messages are clearly communicated.

What is my dream job? Well, one where I’m helping the many and involved in something universal. Thus far, as a freelance copy editor, it’s been about language and communication.


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The basic proofread for marketers with a small budget

If you can’t afford to hire a professional copy editor or proofreader to review your marketing communications before final publishing, here’s how you can do a very basic proofread of the item by yourself.

These steps cover some basic items to look for, and they work best if your marketing piece is fairly simple, on one page, for example, and not text heavy. These steps also assume you have the “final” designed piece (digital or printed) in front of you, ready for your approval.

  1. Put the piece away somewhere and don’t look at it again until the next day.
  2. Read it again slowly and calmly for sense and flow, and verify that the main message is clear overall. Since you’re about to go live with this piece, you shouldn’t be making any major content (or design) changes.
  3. Now look at it in more detail. Read it again from the beginning. Review each and every word for spelling, especially proper names. Misspellings are the worst error to miss.
  4. Verify that any dates, times, phone numbers, and Web or street addresses are correct.
  5. Now look for space issues. Look for extra spaces between paragraphs, sentences, words and letters. There should be only one space between sentences, not two. Strange spacing in text (if it is not intentional) is awkward and off-putting.
  6. Check if any text is accidentally cut off or covered up by something in the design, making it unreadable, or if text has somehow dropped out. Missing text or covered text errors are especially sloppy.
  7. Submit your changes to your Web or graphic designer.
  8. On the revised version, check that your changes were done correctly. Glance at the whole piece again and verify that nothing else was changed by accident. If everything looks good, then you’re ready to approve. If not, go back to step 7.

What about grammar or punctuation? If you have a doubt, you’ll have to consult the copywriter who wrote the piece.

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“How long will this take to proofread/edit?” asked the project manager

impendingsunset The sun is preparing to set in this picture. That can happen surprisingly fast, as you know, but at the same time you must wait. That is the pace at which to start to imagine how long it might take to proofread or edit something.

Many factors are involved. For example, the experience of the proofer/editor, the nature of the piece to be reviewed, whether you want copyediting or proofreading, the amount of text and number of pages, if the piece is a text document or if the piece is already laid out into a design, etc.

To help reduce the time spent proofreading or copyediting, provide any background information about the item to be reviewed, such as what it will be used for, if it’s a printed piece or an online piece, or if it’s part of an existing campaign. If there are things you don’t want checked or modified in any way, mention them.

In other words, a “small” piece with just three words doesn’t take two seconds to review. Allow at least 30 minutes.

The answer: Anywhere from 30 minutes to several hours. With a quick glance at the material and with any background information you provide, a good copy editor or proofreader should be able to estimate the time needed.