Tag Archives: rant

HSE in typo-ridden, grammer-challenged style guide shocker!

In-house style guides are there to keep publications clear, consistent and accurate so shouldn’t they be proofread for spelling, grammar and punctuation themselves?

You’d think so, but it seems the Health Service Executive (HSE) in Ireland forgot to check its work (or it hired the worst proofreader in the world) when it published a Plain language style guide for documents.

You can see the pretty long list of the errors on the document in Stan Carey’s post: HSE – Who proofreads the proofreaders? There’s also a good discussion going on in the comments.

My experience is that this kind of work can easily fall between the cracks in a big organisation. It is often the comms people who create the copy and the illustrators who lay it out. Technical points or queries about sense will most likely be run past a subject matter expert.

But basic proofreading is often passed on to the person in the department considered to have a good grasp of English. This is like giving the company accounts to someone who likes numbers, or layout to someone who is good at drawing.

Big orgs seem unaware of (or unwilling to prioritise the budget for?) proofreaders. But proofreading is a skill. Not only does it keep spelling, grammar and style points on track but, through accuracy and better readability, it builds trust in the reader.

I’ve only worked for two public sector organisations and both had previously just done the proofing themselves. In some cases, they didn’t do a bad job. But when they saw the level of red pen marks of a qualified proofreader, then they realised the difference between a quick read-though and a proper markup.

Still, the HSE errors are particularly surprising – even an automatic spellcheck should have picked up many of the issues that Stan highlights.

But, yanno, whatevah! I’m sure HSE is not the only outfit in the land with a dodgy style guide. I remember a superbly accurately Radio Times style guide that was completely unusable because it was the size of a doorstep.

Anyway, enough finger-pointing. Here is a LOLcat to rebalance the universe.

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Hitler also gives good Giles Coren

Chief sub’s office, the Times… it’s all downhill from there. Brilliant.

Why the world needs subs 2

An interview on the lovely OJB Online Journalism Blog threw up this little beauty in an interview with Gary Knight, editor of Rethink-Dispatches.com:

“I think MySpace and YouTube are not the media, nor are bloggers. They are the 21st century equivalent of Hyde Park Corner and youth clubs…”

Er, am I missing something? Hyde Park Corner is traffic intersection and the home of a big fat arch. I’m thinking he means Speakers’ Corner, which is a bit further north up Park Lane. If he didn’t and I missed the point, the point needs explanation. If not, another notch for the subs team.

Why the world needs subs 1

Recently there was an online debate about why reporters don’t write their own headlines. Various reasons were put forward (read some of ’em here), with one reporter saying:

So they’ll spend money an extra staff member instead?

What can I say? How about a headline suggestion: Missing word proves point

I’m not blaming the writer – for who but a sub subs themselves on the internet, and to be honest, it’s my day job so I can’t be bothered either? But does any reporter get rankled when people assume they can do their job just because they speak English and read newspapers? That said, I can report – because I trained and worked as one, AND THEN became a sub. So, nerr!