Copyeditors are often perceived as extraordinarily organized, anal, and conservative in action. (And I assure you that this is exactly what I’m like.) But the truth is that even for a left-wing, bisexual, free-thinking hippy such as myself, anomalies make me nervous in my line of work.
Authors tend to be consistent in their errors. If they use an ampersand for an “and” in the citations, they will do so throughout. So when their mistakes are inconsistent, I become uneasy. When the system generates queries (don’t ask, it’s not very interesting) that shouldn’t really be there, I worry that I’m missing something.
And sure enough, the system generated a query that didn’t make sense. Well, machines are even more consistent than erring authors, and so I took a second link. Oh. Turns out that Table 1 was labeled as Table I. You can imagine why I might miss that my first time around.
Even uptight copyeditors get lazy, feel as if they know what they are doing, and don’t look as closely as they might. So it’s always good to be reminded that although the page numbers are almost always right, sometimes they are incorrect, and you have to make sure the numbers make sense. Check again. It won’t hurt, and while it won’t save lives, it might save your ass.
What do you need to remember?