Monday, July 21, 2008

Was This Note for Us, or for Your Editor?


I'm a sucker for advice columns. I think that, because my families (birth, in-law, nuclear) are mostly sane, I crave vicarious drama.

The Advice Goddess on Creators.com has this at the end of the first letter in her column today:



" . . . Of course, being pickier may mean that women like "Almost A Bride" will miss out on that "full-time mommy dream" you talk about — or whatever you'd call life with a tantrum-throwing 3-year-old who's just this side of 50.

STYLE NOTE: Please make COULD and WILL lowercase and italicized.
<  But because something COULD happen to somebody in your demographic doesn't mean it WILL happen to you. >


[brackets hers]

Oops--I think she wasn't talking to us. Oh, well, at least it makes sense to us! (and, it could be a sort of jaunty writing tactic, which I would not put past Ms. Alkon at all--and it's sort of fun if it is that. It's just that I've never seen her do that sort of thing. Carolyn Hax, yes. Amy Alkon, no)


Aha! I've spotted another instance, and I do think it's a case of the "notes for the syndicators of my column" that wasn't stripped out of converted, either bcs someone missed it or bcs they intend to leave it in. It is:


. . . Now, there is that chance he's freezing up out of performance anxiety or because he sees sleeping together as an I.O.U. for commitment. But more than likely, his favorite sex positions are spooning, snoring, and doggie-style — as in, rolling over and playing dead.

Ultimately, the person in need of your honesty is you: whether the man for you is one who's always got Mr. Happy at the ready, or whether you can make do with a guy who should probably pet-name his entire sex drive Nuclear Winter.

STYLE NOTE, CONSERVATIVE PAPERS ONLY: In the first paragraph, "doggie-style" can be omitted (only if you must!). The last sentence in the first para can be replaced with this:

>Now, there is that chance he's freezing up out of performance anxiety or because he sees sleeping together as an I.O.U. for commitment. But more than likely, his favorite sex positions are spooning, snoring, and rolling over and playing dead.<



This is much more comprehensible than the line, "with enemies like this, who needs goose allies?"

That's the last line of a Field & Stream article a friend of mine edited years and years ago. The story was about something like a wetlands conservation group that found local farmers (who you might have expected to favor draining the wetlands) were in fact pursuing the same conservation goals for reasons related to their own industries. That last line was intended to marvel at the role of these expected enemies: "with enemies like this, who needs allies?"

Whence the goose?

At the time, the magazine used a dingbat at the end of every story--one in the shape of, you guessed it, a goose.

My friend dug out the proof, and indeed, someone had written "goose" on it and drawn a line pointing vaguely in the direction of the last sentence. This being the days of out-of-house typographers (hey, it wasn't THAT long ago; technology moves pretty fast, I'm not THAT old, it's just that I was very young when this story happened!), the typesetter, not being an editor and not being familiar w/ the story, had simply inserted the word "goose" somewhere without querying it, and nobody caught it.

What typographer/proofreader mark have you seen in print?

4 comments:

mighty red pen said...

One of my favorites was from a newspaper that had put in as a placeholder, "Pithy subhed goes here," forgot to actually put in said pithy subhed, and went to print with the placeholder!

TootsNYC said...

Oh, that reminds me! I should make it its own entry.

A friend and former colleague of mine was working at Glamour, and someone called me: "Find the latest issue, and read the gutter credit on page X."

it said something very like: "Shopping Credits go here, come on people, I don't want to wait until 2 in the morning for 5-point type on the page."

She didn't get fired--but she was called in to see Ruth Whitney, the editor in chief!

I told her, "Look, at least you didn't swear!"

And a woman I worked with told forever the story of the New York magazine story that began, "There are tk thousand trees in Moscow."

That one made me mad--who did the writer think was going to count trees? Write a different lead!

Editrix said...

Someone on the staff of my college newspaper once used ridiculous placeholder names in a story, and they made it into print. So, there were all these perfectly lucid-sounding quotes being attributed to people with mames like H. R. Pufnstuf and Seymour Butts. I'm still not sure what the placeholder names were doing there in the first place, even in the early drafts. Unless, of course, the quotes were made up, too. Hmmm . . .

Linda said...

Oh my gosh. Toots, I think I know your friend from Glamour!