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Be fussy - it's what we do!

by: Garry Pierrepont (8 July 2010)

I was working for a client recently who deals with designing annual reports. I was asked by the project manager to proofread one particular annual report of about 132 pages. It was pretty dry stuff.

I decided to go the whole hog on this one and not just mark up changes on the text, but maintain a file in a Word document of all the inconsistencies – for these blight most writing even more than comma splices – including all hyphenated words and changes of table header styles between that one on page 41 and another one on page 96!

It turned out to be a four-page document in the end, mostly of hyphenated adjectives or nouns, but with some glaring inconsistencies – some actually factual – too.

Although I was pleased with my work and attention to detail, I was slightly concerned about passing it over to the project manager, who would then pass it on to their client. I thought it might be regarded as “too much” and “over fussy”.

Things were quiet for about three weeks as I moved on to other work, and I forgot all about that particular annual report as I worked on other smaller documents.

Imagine my delight then, when the project manager came by and said, “My client wants to marry you!” I’m a happily married man, but this sounded intriguing at least! “Oh yes,” said the project manager, “she was absolutely delighted with your work, and wants you on it again next year.”

Excellent news, and it confirmed to me that, as proofreaders, our attention to detail and consistency of style is our currency. It is a method I will continue to use in future.

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