One of Kat’s targets for this year was to find the time to read more books with a business development angle. Her starter for ten was ‘Eats, shoots and leaves’, the zero tolerance approach to punctuation by Lynne Truss. Here are Kat’s thoughts on this and the importance of a really good proofreader (or two).
I’m with Lynne Truss on this one… I’ve always been a stickler for correct punctuation and grammar. If I read a book and spot an error (and it happens more often than you might think), I always wonder how it managed to make it to the printed edition after going through what should have been lots of processes before the final sign-off.
I spot stuff all the time now… restaurant menus, road sign, shop signs, you name it! Once you start to notice the random apostrophes in words like ‘Second-hand Book’s, CD’s and Video’s’, or the missing ‘r’ in a road sign – ‘Diveted traffic’ (yes, I was so engrossed in the incorrect sign I nearly missed the diversion!) – there seems to be no escape.
Lynne Truss gives some great examples and advice in her entertaining book ‘Eats, shoots and leaves’, covering all things apostrophe; comma; semi-colon and the dreaded hyphen (my personal bug-bear. Or should that be bug bear?). Her style of writing is easy to read, humorous and pretty straightforward, and while it may seem like basic stuff on the whole, it does serve as a reminder that, particularly in this ‘text-speak’ age, we are in danger of getting sloppy with our written language. Not a gr8 way forward for a stickler like me!
One of my ‘things to do’ here at Rambutan is to proofread material before it goes out to clients and visitors to our website, via things like this… our blog posts. There’s no point banging on here about how important it is to create the right impression and get it spot-on from the start, because of course you already know that. However, my point here is to remember just how important it is to make sure everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, is checked, double-checked and triple-checked before sign-off, as it has been proven time and time again that a fresh pair of eyes will often pick up a tiny error that two previous readers had missed. No matter how vigilant a proofreader, or grammatically correct a writer you are… the closer and more familiar you are with a piece of material, the more likely you are to miss that all-important typo, or incorrectly-placed hyphen, no matter how many times you’ve looked!
At this point in my blog I’d like to admit that I did insert a little intentional error just so you can check your own proofreading skills… did you spot it?
My parting thoughts on this relate to page 168 of Lynne’s book and refer to the minefield that is the hyphen. She writes that an old style guide of the Oxford University Press in New York stated “If you take hyphens seriously you will surely go mad.” So true! One of the most frequently asked questions here at Treetops is “Is there a hyphen in that?” It sometimes does the rounds of three or four people before we agree whether it should or should not be hyphenated.
One last thing; shouldn’t that be an old style-guide Lynne?