National Proofreading Day: A Day of Error-Free Writing

By Kammie Sumpter
Posted in Overcup Press, on March 09, 2017

I once worked at a newspaper for my college, and it was time to publish our “Welcome Week” edition for the first week of classes that quarter. After a few—or, most likely, many—proofreading mishaps, we sent the edition to the printers with “Welocome Week” printed boldly across a few hundred cover pages to be dispersed across campus.

Hopefully, this encourages you to proofread diligently, whether you’re writing an email or submitting a manuscript.

March 8 marks the 7th annual National Proofreading Day, promoting the use of your red correcting pens and a full day of mistake-free writing.

National Proofreading Day Founder Judy Beaver wanted to honor her mother Flo’s birthday while also remembering that she “loved to correct people,” Beaver said on the holiday’s official website.

Visit her blog for additional tips on proofreading, editing and business writing.

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Overcup’s editing process is meticulous and varies from book to book. Overcup Editor Patrick McDonald said that evolving the manuscript of The Field Guide to Drinking in America was rigorous and the biggest editing project he’s ever tackled. The two-year task included a team of three editors who researched, fact-checked and proofread. “With a book like this, we knew that our credibility depended on the manuscript being flawless,” he said.

Each section—51 total, including each state and Washington D.C.—followed the same process. First, McDonald and Field Guide Author Niki Ganong developed each section’s essay, resulting in 2-3 rounds of editing each. The essay would then get sent to Overcup Editor Cheryl Frey, who fact-checked each essay. This sparked discussion on sources and claims on validity, and was often followed by the removal and revision of unsound sources and quotes. Meanwhile, Meaghan Corwin, the third editor on the team, worked as a research assistant on the “legal dos and don’ts” of each state. Lastly, McDonald and Ganong formatted the essay and legal information of each section, which resulted in the creation of a new, visual style guide for certain terms.

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McDonald emphasized the role of proofreading. “It's important that we present text-based information in a way that makes it easy and clear for the reader to understand,” he said.

Another project McDonald edited was The Tall Trees of Paris, which included editing handwritten questionnaires that needed to be transcribed and translated—by Kate Merrill—from French. He said this caused a few hiccups with French colloquialisms and difficult-to-read penmanship.

tall-trees-of-paris-example-questionnaire

One of McDonald’s larger challenges in editing Tall Trees was cohesion between the handwritten questionnaire and the translated and transcribed text. “I wanted to make sure that a reader could easily move back and forth between the survey and the translation and still keep their place. There is a fun kind of interaction between the left side of the page and the right,” he said.

McDonald had to proofread proper noun spelling in both sides of the page and make sure the handwritten symbols and pictures within the questionnaire made sense when juxtaposed to the transcribed text.

Overall, McDonald said the goal of proofreading is “clarity and correctness.” Overcup, he said, has a unique proofreading process, as much of its published titles are illustrated and focused on visual reading pleasure. Because of this, he said, “it's important to consider the reader at all times and how they will be interacting with the text on the page.”

Join us on March 8 to celebrate error-free writing and be sure to explore some of Overcups titles that received extra proofreading attention!