Now, producing pages free from error was one goal (and, it goes without saying, an important one). Another (arguably more important) goal was getting the pages to press on time. Launch dates are crucial to any business with a vast amount of tightly coordinated marketing activity planned to orbit around such launches. As for ‘to press’ dates, these are, quite simply, set in stone. To miss them is to invite very hefty fines. I’ve known fines of as much as £20,000. Per day.
So, as an Operations Manager, I was balancing the need for quality with the need to hit all scheduled milestone dates on time.
This called for compromise.
As a proof reader, particularly if you find yourself working for a commercially driven organisation (and few organisations aren’t commercially driven in one way or another), you’ll be called upon to compromise.
This means identifying corrections that absolutely must be carried out and those which are ‘nice to do’. It’s going to hurt a little, I’m afraid, but you’re just going to have to be strong.
Examples of the kinds of things that absolutely must be carried out include:
• Spelling errors
• Factual inaccuracies
• Incorrect information (e.g. contact details)
• Lack of clarity (and other ‘customer unfriendly’ copy)
• Anything that might bring the business into disrepute
Examples of the kinds of things that are ‘nice to do’ include:
• Stylistic inconsistencies
• Hyphen usage
• Split infinitives and other slight deviations from the strictest rules of English grammar
• Personal bugbears (e.g. you might be irked by the overuse of adverbs)
When marking up a proof, use two different coloured pens, one red and one green. The red marks are crucial, the green ‘nice to do’. This enables you to demonstrate to your employer that you haven’t missed anything and at the same time lets them know that you fully appreciate the need for schedule adherence.
When I was an Operations Manager, one of my duties was carrying out performance reviews. Those proof readers that showed an appreciation of matters beyond the scope of their day-to-day activities (i.e. recognised that they were part of a greater whole) always receives glowing appraisals.
And, hopefully, so will you.