I'll never forget having worked as the Senior Copy Editor for a luxury lifestyle publication. I was final proofing a magazine and we were running behind schedule. I quickly made my last-minute corrections on a hard copy and handed them back to the designer. He went to work making the corrections, and when finished, we both breathed a great sigh of relief. We had made our deadline once again. We congratulated ourselves for a job well done and started on the next edition with great confidence.
When I received the magazine from the printer and looked at the cover, I nearly fell off my chair. There was a typo on the front cover headline that I had caught during my final cycle of corrections, but the designer had missed. I felt a little sick, but like all well-seasoned editors, I managed to limit the negative self-talk, I gained my composure and went about the business of the day.
As a team player, I didn't point fingers at the graphic designer. Instead, I took personal responsibility for the mistake because I had not taken an extra few minutes to check his work. Thankfully, advertisers didn't ask for their money back and my publisher forgave me. Most of all, I re-learned some lessons that are important enough to pass on.
The following are a few good editing and proofreading tips that will help minimize mistakes that might otherwise appear in your Christian materials.
- Have more than one set of eyes review your documents. Give a person you trust permission to be nit-picky.
- Take several passes at the material. For example, in one pass, proofread all the headlines and make sure the spacing is right. In another pass, read the text with consistency in mind. In a final pass, read everything from beginning to end.
- Create a style guide that your church can use on a regular basis. The style guide includes the spelling of certain words, the use of numbers, and other formatting standards.
- Edit or proofread in a quiet place. I suggest you create an editing station that is different than your regular place of writing or doing other business.
- Check your work after you have made a round of corrections. Make sure you didn't add a typo or delete a word or line.
- Purchase style and/or editing books and keep them handy. You'll be surprised how often you need them.