Editors With Attitude? No Thanks

Been thinking about an article I read a couple of weeks ago about the so-called “Typo Eradication Advancement League (TEAL).”
TEAL is nothing but two guys, Jeff Deck and Benjamin Herson, who’ve spent the past summer traveling the United States and correcting typos on public signage. Things you see all the time, like “Bobs Donuts” instead of “Bob’s Donuts.” The duo were finally sanctioned for correcting (read: defacing) a historic sign at the Grand Canyon National Park.
I finally realized what had been bugging me about this story. The way I see things, copyeditors aren’t supposed to call attention to themselves. We’re not supposed run around, waving our arms, making a big deal out of writers’ errors. And we’re certainly not supposed to make the writers we work with feel stupid.
Instead, we’re supposed to work in the background, helping our writers express their ideas as clearly as possible. Getting rid of mistakes that might block a reader’s comprehension. Then fading into the background, and letting the writer–and his or her ideas–shine.
A copyeditor who wants to be the story, rather than craft the story, just might be in the wrong profession.

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