Getting it Right: or, The Perils of Proof-reading

It’s said that six out of every ten books published have errors not in the content, but in production – spelling, layout, punctuation, and so on. And it’s an odd thing that, however many times you check before it goes to press, it only takes a few seconds to spot those errors when you unpack the first box back from the printers. Yet getting it right isn’t just about pedantry: errors can spoil the enjoyment of a book, and (particularly in non-fiction) undermine the reader’s confidence in the content.

2015-12-04 12.24.04We were very conscious of this with ‘Latitude North’ because the author, Charles Moseley, knows just as much about the craft of making books as he does about writing them. He was an editor with Cambridge University Press, and he was also a trained printer, so would be sure to spot even  glitches such as inconsistent use of en and em dashes. And because ‘Latitude North’ ranges so widely over the culture and literature of the Scandinavian lands, as well as descriptions of the places he has visited himself, we also had a range of titles, technical terms and place-names to get right, in various Scandinavian languages, and using the right letters (yes, including runes).

Then there’s fact-checking. Should it be ‘skidoo’ of ‘Skidoo’? Is ‘omen aberat’ the correct way to make a pun in Latin on the obedience of your gun dog (and we had to go to a Professor of Ancient Philosophy at Durham University for that).

You can judge for yourself if we’ve got it right – and there’s a prize for the first reader to tell us what we missed.


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