Sunday, March 23, 2003


Although the advisor to Gemini, the NMH Yearbook, is an English teacher known for her inflexibly high standards in the classroom, the sheer size of a yearbook for the largest co-ed prep school in the country is overwhelming, and the product is primarily produced by students -- some of whom are not native speakers and all of whom neither speak nor read at a publication-ready level -- working only a few hours a week in the midst of an otherwise overwhelming workload. The potential for errors is off the charts. A couple of years ago too many mistakes slipped through the final proofing process, including switched captions on the pictures of the two head administrative deans, and needless to say, they weren't pleased.

Darcie, the assistant advisor, brought some of the yearbook proofs home for me to look at near the end of that next year, and what her coworker's aging eyes had missed jumped out at me naturally like a red Buick in a green field. There were only a couple of errors in the yearbook that year. And this is how I became the yearbook proofreader.

So now I have the final say, am the final set of eyes on the uncorrected yearbook proofs, those pages sent back from the publisher for us to make final corrections. I look for spelling and grammar, match names to pictures, find and encircle too little or too much space between words. It takes about 20 hours out of my life each term, for which I get paid in kisses I'd hopefully have gotten anyway

And I love it.

I've always liked proofreading, and I've always been good at it. I'm one of those people who can't let a word or phrase go by until I'm sure it's correct. I kept myself in beer money and cigarettes through my last two years of college editing senior theses overnight for a dollar a page. More, it is rewarding to me on a fully visceral level; I like making order out of chaos on the page, and I genuinely enjoy making proper turns of phrase out of garbled messes and typographic errors, concrete and deliberate language out of the vague and close enough. (heck, I even enjoy grading papers.) As an added bonus, I get to be the first to see the yearbook.

And then there are the belly laughs. What follows is a few choice selections taken directly from this round of proofs. The editors and copywriters are all high school seniors, but there's no secret out there that the average high school student can't write these days, and if you needed proof, this is a good place to start. It's grammatically side-splitting student writing, and it's too good not to share. Most are picture captions. The typos are not mine.

Memebers of Amnesty International write urgent actions.

Well known for our Arts until the days of Moody, NMH still continue to prove this theory right.

She helps student, who English is not their first language, to build a stronger English.

She is so concentrated that she does not notice the yearbook photographer.

Pam is smiling at us with her smile.

Green Pastures is one of the many departments here at NMH.
[note: Not only is this problematic because the caption is supposed to describe the department's function, not note that they are a department, Green Pastures is one of our administrative buildings.]

The farm staff, Richard and Alex work in the farm all the time along with their horse [note: This would be okay, if it were not accompanying a picture of Richard, Alex, and a COW.]

And my favorite:

The Power Plant Department helps provide power to the two campuses. One of the staff members include the chief engineer Joe Santucci.

In my mind, I see the power plant department running on a hamster wheel, while, from deep inside one of the staff members, Joe's muffled voice urges them to run faster, it's getting dark in here. The image has been stuck in my head all day. I keep laughing out loud, embarassing myself. It's a good feeling.

posted by boyhowdy | 7:47 PM |

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