Avoid this embarrassing mistake in your publications

What will your readers think if they see Latin text where your photo caption should be, as in the image below? They may wonder about more than your proofreading skills. They may wonder if your lack of attention to detail extends into your professional services. That’s not good. It’s okay to use placeholder text, but you need a strategy to ensure that you replace it.

Mistake Monday item using Latin instead of English

I understand why the designer inserted Latin text as a placeholder for a caption. As Cynthia Bartz says in “Review Design Proofs with Confidence: Lorem Ipsum,” Latin is “used to approximate the look of text and paragraphs in design work” while the designer waits to receive the final text.

A person eyeballing the article in the image can judge that the design looks good. The use of Latin should alert the proofreader in the next step that the text should be replaced before publication. Somehow, that didn’t happen.

How can you avoid letting placeholder text get published? I have some ideas.

1. Hire a proofreader

A proofreader should have caught the Latin placeholder text in the example.

If you lack the budget for a proofreader, try the “read out loud” technique I discuss in “Why I love Adobe Acrobat Pro for proofreading.” I feel confident that the sound of Latin would catch your attention.

But perhaps the designer told you or the proofreader, “We’ll fill it in later.” I can understand why you’d let it go temporarily. That’s why you need a process.

2. Flag text for later review

If placeholder text hasn’t been replaced by the time a proofreader reviews it, the proofreader needs to flag text for later review. There are several ways to do that.

  1. Create a checklist of text that needs to be replaced and proofread. Schedule a time to review and update the checklist. Don’t let the piece publish before every problem is checked off.
  2. Format the placeholder text so it stands out. A friend told me that newspapers type placeholder text in ALL CAPS so it’s easier to find it when your eyes sweep over the page. I sometimes highlight placeholder text in yellow, as in the image below.this placeholder text needs to be replaced

 

 

Please don’t embarrass yourself with placeholder text that gets published.

MISTAKE MONDAY for Feb. 26: Can YOU spot what’s wrong

Can you spot what’s wrong in the image below? Please post your answer as a comment.

I post these challenges to raise awareness of the importance of proofreading.

Mistake Monday explote

This mistake in The Wall Street Journal reminds me that everyone makes mistakes—even companies with professional proofreaders on staff.

Don’t beat yourself up when mistakes slip through. However, please do resolve to do better. That’s what I do.

If you enjoyed testing your skills on this example, visit my blog next week for another Mistake Monday item.

MISTAKE MONDAY for Feb. 19: Can YOU spot what’s wrong?

Can you spot what’s wrong in the image below? Please post your answer as a comment. I post these challenges to raise awareness of the importance of proofreading.

Mistake Monday Recession recession

 

Believe it or not, this mistake appeared on the AP Stylebook website. I imagined that website would have a rigorous proofreading process. The moral of the story is that everyone makes mistakes. (I know I make plenty of them.)

I tweeted to @APStylebook about the problem. Although no one responded to me, I see that the mistake has been corrected.

MISTAKE MONDAY for Feb. 5: Can YOU spot what’s wrong?

Can you spot what’s wrong in the image below? Please post your answer as a comment.

 

I post these challenges to raise awareness of the importance of proofreading.Mistake Monday item using Latin instead of English

 

Don’t hire a proofreader

Don’t hire a proofreader for your blog, says Michael Hyatt in Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World. Hyatt thinks a proofreader will cause unnecessary delays. However, he recommends that you proofread your own work.

Hyatt’s advice shocked me. But then I realized, hey, I don’t use a proofreader. I check my work. I’m usually pretty good at it. Sometimes errors get through, but usually I’m the only person who notices. It’s easy to correct errors on a blog. It’s not as big a deal as a printed book, presentation, or even an e-book.

However, if you have a budget that allows you to hire a proofreader, then go for it. More importantly, if you routinely make awful mistakes, or if you have super-critical readers, then please consider hiring a proofreader. Ask your colleagues for recommendations. Talk to people whom you know, which is how advisor Rick Kahler found his editor. You can also find a proofreader online through Craigslist or freelance sites.

As an in-between measure, consider using my “read out loud” method.

 

Feb. 6, 2018: I updated this post to add a link to the “read out loud” method of proofreading.