The The Impotence of Proofreading

In case you missed a memo, let me remind everyone that I earn my meager wages working as a proofreader. That means I’m a professional nitpicker, or, as the various people who are beholden to my demands would say, “a big pain in the ass who holds up the process over minuscule stuff that nobody cares about and who doesn’t understand the aesthetics of the piece.” Yeah, whatever. Adding a comma or making the capitalization in that heading consistent with how it’s done in all the other headings is not going to affect your precious aesthetics; on the contrary, I think consistency will make the piece more pleasing.

You’ll forgive me if I come across as hostile, but the sad truth is that I don’t often feel very appreciated by my coworkers, and no one outside the biz is ever impressed when I tell them what my job is. Hell, few people understand what it is that proofreaders actually do; some even go so far as to wonder why we’re necessary when Word has a perfectly good spellchecker built right in. As an answer to that argument, allow me to present the following explanation of why spellcheckers can’t yet replace a real, literate human eye, and most probably never will unless there’s some kind of major breakthrough in AI tech… which I’m not too worried about: