A Monthly Meditation on Branding Language
From Your Favorite Copy Shop, Editorial Emergency

Issue 15 (April 30, 2008): When Spell-Check Attacks!

The proof may be in the pudding, but proofing is certainly more than dessert – as is demonstrated by this issue's paean to proofreading and a charming Q&A with text-scouring heroine Susan O'Brien. We've added a little extra sugar with some lively reader feedback, a sprinkling of self-congratulation and this month's half-baked platter of Not Our Clients. Enjoy.

The Thin Red (Squiggly) Line

Image I pity the fool who doesn't use spell-check. I'm an excellent speller, yet I've become so dependent on spell-check that I won't even e-mail without it. Still, as embarrassment-sparing as this tool can be, we all know that if left to its own devices, editorial mayhem – and in some cases, hilarity (read on) – ensues. Whatever you do, DO NOT rush your spell-checking; when the program comes to a word it doesn't recognize and offers you alternatives, choose carefully.

I recently made a written reference to the film "An Inconvenient Truth." I can be a sloppy typist, and when the red squiggle appeared beneath my attempt at "inconvenient," I just right-clicked on that puppy and selected the "inconvenient" option. Or so I thought. Imagine my horror when, upon my first read-through, I saw that the title appeared as "An Incontinent Truth."

Read the rest here.

Proofreading Confidential

ImageEditorial Emergency recently collaborated (on behalf of our beloved client Marketing Factory) with the design firm Graphics 101 on the 2008 Honda Civic Tour souvenir program. One of the value-added services Graphics 101 provided was the eagle-eyeing of professional proofreader Susan O'Brien.

You all know what a word nerd Julia is, so it may not surprise you to discover that "professional proofreader" has long been a fantasy career of hers (right up there with cheesemonger and supermodel). She was thus impressed by O'Brien – for her choice of vocation as well as the razor-sharpness she brings to it – and felt it necessary to share.

O'Brien works full time as a senior proofreader at Rubin Postaer Associates (RPA), an advertising agency with a client roster that includes Honda, Acura, La-Z-Boy, and SOYJOY, and as a freelance proofreader/copy editor for Graphics 101, which does print work for radio stations, including concert programs, logos, and T-shirts.

Following is a brief Q&A with O'Brien, in which she discusses bringing order to her plush menagerie, the expectation of perfection, and (at Julia's urging) a rare proofreading stumble, among other juicy tidbits. Julia reveals her own most-embarrassing copy moment thereafter.

Editorializing: What are your primary professional responsibilities/day-to-day tasks?

Susan O'Brien: At RPA, I proofread Honda National broadcast, print, collateral, direct mail and event copy, as well as all things La-Z-Boy. Basically, I review the copy for errors and inconsistencies. Then I supervise how it's typed up so it's as clean as possible for our studio. I review mechanicals and print proofs for errors in type, format, missing elements, etc. My work at Graphics 101 involves more fiddling with the copy itself. Depending on the project, Graphics 101 often doesn't have copywriters producing text, so it typically needs more cleaning up.

E: What early experiences/personal attributes have prepared you for this work? Are you a natural-born stickler?

SO: I have always liked organizing things. As a kid I'd organize my drawers, my stuffed-animal collection, the food on my plate – you name it; I'd line it up and give it structure. I look at proofreading and copy editing as providing order and clarity to the written word. I've also always loved to read, so I can't ask for anything better than spending all day doing something I love.

Read the rest here.

Weather Shoes, Silver Lake: Readers Weigh In

ImagePardon us for blushing, but quite a few readers have written in to sing our praises and weigh in on some of our favorite subjects. "I really enjoyed reading your piece on malapropisms," notes Maureen Mills, who goes on to recount her (then three-year-old) daughter's question, "Do you think I should wear my black hat and weather shoes?" It took Maureen a moment to realize the child was trying to say "leather" shoes.

We're not sure that's technically a malapropism, Maureen, but we love the story anyhow. And we love you for saying this: "I don't know how I stumbled upon EE but as soon as I did I signed up for the newsletter and forwarded it to all of the students (undergrad and grad) I supervise. I'm a sucker for the smart/funny combo." We, meanwhile, are suckers for a well-placed compliment. B. Kim Taylor is likewise doing her part to usher us into the Groves of Academe: "I'm instructing all of my copywriting students to visit your site and learn!"

We also received kind words from Silver Lake Chamber of Commerce vice president Ilka Erren Pardiñas, along with a helpful hint. "Love your newsletter," she writes. "I was just reading 'Branding: An Introduction' [Editorializing 9] and noticed you spelled Silver Lake as one word. The Silver Lake Chamber of Commerce has spent much time and effort to brand this community and let people know that the correct way to spell the name is as two words. I thought youĂ­d want me to let you know. Thanks for all the great work you do and your newsletter!"

Needless to say, we speedily updated said article. Thank you, Ilka, for bringing this matter to our attention. Truly, you are the Lady of the Lake. (NOTE: For those of you who do not reside in Los Angeles, Silver Lake is a fabulously diverse, topographically blessed, impeccably hip neighborhood on the city's east side. The lake is actually a reservoir; the "silver" is actually Herman Silver [1830-1913], a member of Los AngelesĂ­ first Board of Water Commissioners. At least that's what it says in Wikipedia.)

Want to shower us with praise, or scorn, for that matter? Write to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .'; document.write( '' ); document.write( addy_text58100 ); document.write( '<\/a>' ); //--> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Blowing Our Own Horn

ImageWe're pleased as punch to announce that EE principals Simon and Julia have been tapped as columnists for Candlepower, an online magazine from the language lovers who bring you The Visual Thesaurus. After running
an interview with Simon, the publication posted Julia's "Branding: A Primer." A (very reasonably priced) subscription is required; trust us – you'll be happy you subscribed. You may also have seen some EE-authored articles at MarketingProfs.com; they too ask you to sign up before reading, but all it costs is your e-mail address. We were similarly delighted to be featured in an e-blast from SellMore Marketing; it bears mentioning that SellMore's Bill Doerr is a wonderful business matchmaker, urging collaborations among his myriad contacts.

Keep an eye peeled for EE – we plan to be everywhere.

Not Our Clients: Perplexity-Guaranteed Edition

Sometimes words fail even us. Suffice to say that this beauty – from our current risible round-up of Not Our Clients ne'er-do-wells – makes its own gravy.

Say no more. Please.

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