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The World Needs More Proofreaders – Swarovski Ad Fail

Ad Fail!

I work as a freelance translator, copyeditor and proofreader.

People are usually familiar with the concept of translating and editing. A translator, well, translates text from a source language to a target language, and a copyeditor makes sure the information is conveyed properly.

Proofreading, on the other hand, is somewhat of a mysterious task to most people.

Basically, proofreaders detect and correct production errors in text or art. They correct spelling and grammatical mistakes, research proper terminology to ensure consistency and style, etc. They also look at the big picture to make sure everything makes sense.

And trust me, without proofreaders, the world would be a messy—albeit funnier—place.

Along with translating and editing materials, I do my fair share of proofreading. I usually proof translations, manuscripts, and research papers, but also advertisements, brochures, reports, etc. Proofreading is a pretty demanding task because it is the last stage of production before publication—you are the last pair of eyes on the work.

Every writer or designer needs to be proofread, no matter how skilled, how experienced, or how knowledgeable. A second pair of eyes on text or print is crucial. For instance, even though I proofread myself carefully after writing each blog article, I am sure a few typos or mistakes creep in—and occasionally, my friends in the field point them out to me (and yes, I am grateful for that!). Proofing your own writing is incredibly hard—you are blind to your own typos.

I catch funny typos all the time for my clients. For instance, “pubic relations” instead of “public relations” (oops!) or “people who are death or hard of hearing” instead of people who are deaf or hard of hearing” (oops again!), “delicious Chinese dumpings” instead of “Chinese dumplings,” etc.

Let me just say my clients are usually very happy when I spot and correct these typos.

But like I said, proofreading is also about looking at the big picture, not just single words or sentences. And look at what I spotted on the window of Swarovski Crystal (a famous jewellery store selling luxury products) in Bayshore Shopping Mall:

“Someone failed geography!” I immediately said, laughing.

The caption (no picture, I didn’t want the employees to think I was going to steal jewellery!) was talking about someone visiting “Inca temples” in Mexico. Okay, I know it’s a piece of trivia that I happen to know because we travelled in Latin America, but the Inca empire was centred in Peru, thousands of kilometres from Mexico. Mexico was the heart of Mayan and Aztec civilizations—nothing to do with the Incas. Anyway, I found it pretty funny that a major international company like Swarovski could make such a basic cultural faux pas in its advertising campaign and that no one had caught it before print.

Swarovski’s excuse on Twitter was pretty lame:

But hey, if you are a proofreader, here is your chance: send your resume to Swarovski!

Note: I proofed this article like five times. And I am sure a typo or two creeps in.

Update: May 23, 2013 Walked by the store at the Rideau Centre and… ta-da, the map was changed! I like to think it’s because of me, but the brand never really acknowledged the mistake.

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French woman in English Canada.

Exploring the world with my camera since 1999, translating sentences for a living, writing stories that may or may not get attention.

Firm believer that nobody is normal... and it’s better this way.

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