This blog shares some of our thoughts about plain language, and the latest discussions about plain English and clear design in New Zealand, and around the world.

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06 November 2012

Proofreaders 2; spelling checkers 0

We love our skilled proofreaders. They save us (and our clients) from looking dumb and careless. Sometimes, they can even save lives.

One of our clients sent us a snip from a response to a report on a major health and safety investigation. The response listed the recommendations then what the respondent planned to do about them. The final recommendation was mistyped to suggest that organisations have:
modern equipment and fatalities.
Ooops. We checked the report. Sure enough, it recommended:
modern equipment and facilities.
The error was particularly inept given that fatalities were the reason for the investigation.

Many years ago, I worked on an instruction guide for locomotive engine drivers that said something like:
The driver must halt the locomotive and must not proceed until the light is eliminated.
That was easy to rewrite.
Stop. Do not start until the light goes off.
It didn't make sense to me. I brooded about it, then rang the client. Sure enough, the word 'eliminated' should have been 'illuminated'. Final version.
Stop at the red light. Start when the green light goes on.
Spelling checkers don't replace proofreaders. Game, set, and match.

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