Errors are like spiders. You only see one, but you know there are many others. According to one of my friends, you are never more than two feet from a spider at any time, no matter where you are, even in Antarctica.
Copyeditors are paranoid about errors. As they should be. I’m doubly paranoid when I’m doing a copyediting test because I know that there are errors that were introduced on purpose. These are unnatural errors! You tend to get an idea about the kind of errors people make when they are scientists. ESL scientists often forget to include articles. American scientists forget what tense they are supposed to be writing in. Everyone uses “discreet” wrong (shout out to commenters from yesterday).
But the word “exposured” will be used rather than “exposed,” which at least I can tell by reading it closely. Or, and this was my favorite, tumors were said to be diseases. No self-respecting scientist, no matter what her original language, would ever make that error. That’s an undergraduate error. But since I have no actual knowledge about the field of medicine, I am that dumb undergraduate. I have to pay attention. I’ve got to catch the error if I want the job.
One of my early bosses told me that errors often occur near other errors. And the eye often flies to one obvious error and misses all the little ones on the way. So read extra carefully around errors. And look out for spiders. Don’t kill them, it’s bad luck.
How do you keep track?