The Copyeditor’s Dilemma

The biggest dilemma copyeditors face in their daily lives is whether or not they should point out errors they see around them. Doctors don’t have this problem. If they see someone choking at the dinner table they leap into action and do their job. But copyeditors see opportunities to do their jobs outside their workplace, but they risk being a giant asshole if they indulge in that opportunity.

So I have assembled a handy guide to when you should leap in and save us all from the deadly typo and when you should keep your mouth shut.

At your local Indian restaurant

Editorial Row, as our department used to be called back in my cubicle days, would periodically have lunch together at the Indian restaurant. The food is delicious, the service is good, and the menu has a few typos. Do you point them out? No, that makes you look like an imperialist asshole.

On your roommate’s resume

Back in my shared-apartment-dwelling days, I had a fraying relationship with one of my roommates. We cared about each other a lot, but the day-to-day was becoming annoying as fuck. (Note: Who remembers which spoon they ate their cereal in the morning with by the time they do the evening dishes? Note 2: Who doesn’t just wash all the damn spoons in the sink if you’re doing dishes anyway?) I was working at the dining room table and just happened to notice roomie’s resume sitting near my computer. I edited the fuck out of that resume. Although I asked first if she wanted me to.

In your friend’s letters/emails

Hell no. Do you want to keep your friends?

In a delicate email your colleague asks you to read to make sure the tone is correct

Hell yes. Saving your colleague’s ass is part of the greater good.

In a beloved blog

If it were a friend’s blog, I wouldn’t. But this is a Literary Blog and they spelled an author’s name wrong. What would you do, dear readers?


7 responses to “The Copyeditor’s Dilemma

  1. I get those kinds of helpful notes about errors I make in my blog, and I always make the fixes, but I leave the struck-thru (through?) error in place to show a little humility.

    Also, grocery store:
    Express Lane 10 Items or Less – bugs me every time!

  2. ‘scuse me? What? Grammar not a rule?! Not point out mistakes? Whose daughter are you, Indy?

    Having said this, I’d only correct my snarky sister’s blog. Someone else’s? I’d look at their mistake and feel smug. Grammar (spelling?) is not a rule, it’s a tool for social stratification.

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