Recently, I had a few interesting experiences with typos.
As readers of this blog know, I’ve just published my first novel. I was looking over the finished print copy recently, and noticed a typo. Nothing major — just a missing comma — but incontrovertible. I felt that wave of shame a typo generates in any former copy editor (and, no, “copy editor” is not one word!).
Later, I began reading an intriguing new book from John Wiley & Sons called “Content Nation.” The author has a strong premise and salient examples, but there are very distracting typos and formatting problems (the formatting errors seem to involve a “light” version of the typeface being called after italic, so that the book weight precedes the italic, the light follows).
But the true copy editing errors really interrupt the flow and make you want to put the book down.
Two examples within the first nine pages [remedies in brackets]:
- “Although social media tools are increasingly prevalent, not everyone who makes serious use of them.” [delete “who”]
- “The result was a major and costly embarrassment to the company caused and severe damage to its reputation . . .” [delete “caused”]
It was amazing how much faith I lost in the book just because of these formatting and copy problems. It was as if I’d paid for a rough draft. The lack of finish was apparent. And from that, I inferred that neither the author nor the publisher had looked things over before the book was shipped to hundreds of outlets.
Copy editing and formatting may be dismissed by some as modest improvements to a textual report or finished work. But since aesthetics contribute so much to the immersive flow of reading, interruptions to flow should be acknowledged as noise, and eliminated.
In the realm of communication, especially the communication of research years in the making, we need to spend time preserving signal and eliminating noise.