Here in Chicago we have to work at celebrating the advent of spring. Even typing in my subzero office is challenging—thank god for fingerless gloves. So my idea is this: in the spirit of spring cleaning, since there’s no way I’m throwing my mattresses out in the snow, let’s air our consciences instead. Let’s confess our copyediting sins! I’ll stop at three. (Not that I have more . . .)
1. In a lengthy reference book, I failed to notice that the paragraphs on Mies van der Rohe appeared under R instead of under M until the book was at a late stage of production. Ten pages had to be reflowed and all those page numbers in the index had to be adjusted accordingly (by me).
2. After an author and I renumbered the figures in a book I edited, I forgot to notify the other departments, and the wrong images appeared in the page proofs.
3. On a three-volume project, I signed off on jacket copy that featured roman numerals for the volume numbers instead of the arabic numerals we had used everywhere else.
OK—your turn! No pushing—there’s plenty of room for everyone. It will feel great, I promise. Join the community of editors who don’t pretend to be superhuman, and list your sins in the comments area below. And mind you, this is not a forum for writers who want to complain about bad copyeditors. I’ve talked about that before, and I’ll do it again. Today is about good copyeditors who had a bad day.
In any case, there should be no shame in making a mistake now and then. If you had seen the complexity of that appendix, the number of items I checked and cross-checked, and the number of corrections I made, you would probably forgive me spacing out on Mies. It’s a rare editor who catches every last error in a long or complicated project. If you’re young, you’re still learning; if you’re older, you probably have more editorial responsibility. But with luck, we keep learning from every goof.
So please don’t leave me twisting in the wind all alone here; I’m counting on you for assurance that I’m not the only one who makes mistakes! To encourage your confessions, I’ll send a free copy of my Moonlight Blogger to one commenter drawn at random from all those who post by noon on Friday, March 29.*
Remember: the topic is copyediting transgressions. Beyond that, please share with a professional. And don’t worry—I won’t tell anyone.**
*Paperback or Kindle within the continental United States; Kindle only, otherwise.
**That’s a lie. This is the Internet.