When “public” becomes “pubic.” The proof is in the proofreading.
Today’s Better Communications essay is sponsored by Grammarly, an online proofreading service. I use Grammarly for proofreading because the difference between having a public demonstration and a pubic demonstration is much more than the letter “L.”
This is a true story! When I was a writer for WJLA-TV in Washington, DC we were scrambling to finish writing the 11 o’clock newscast and a dreaded typo slipped through the cracks and onto the TelePrompter.
Our anchor was a little man with a big ego who always arrived at the last minute in his chauffeured Bentley. That evening, he slipped into his anchor chair without so much as a glance at the printed scripts that were next to him and began to simply read “cold” from the TelePrompter. He wasn’t paying attention. Just reading along in his booming “anchor” voice. When he reached the story about the Fire Department’s upcoming public demonstration of safety techniques, our hero didn’t notice that the “L” was missing from the intended word “public” and he said… well, you know what he said.. OUT LOUD.. instead.
In retrospect, he reminds me a lot of Ron Burgandy, the nutty newsman in Anchorman, although the movie came out after this unfortunate incident.
I promise you, I was not the writer who made the typo and I was not the person who embarrassed himself reading the wrong word out loud on air! But we were all part of the same news team and so we all shared in responsibility.
No one proofread the copy, so no one caught the error.
It doesn’t matter if you’re not a television anchor. In your professional life, you probably have to write reports, proposals or presentations. Take time to find someone to be your second set of eyes. Proofread before your print or before you present.
You may never make as big a gaffe as that Ron Burgandy runner-up, but typos certainly can affect your credibility – and in almost every case, are avoidable.
Get a proofreader. Think of it as a pubic service for yourself.
P.S. Want to share your worst typo gaffe? C’mon! It’ll be fun!