…my good friend, Wendy Janes, poses the question… are yeez closet proofreaders?…

…this’ll test a few of yeez, Lads and Lassies of Blog Land… try this wee quiz from my friend, Wendy Janes… (I, of course, in all modesty, got 107 % correct… what??…whaddya mean yeez can’t exceed 100%?…who sez?)

Do you have the makings of a good proofreader?

A light-hearted quiz by Wendy Janes

Thanks to Seumas for inviting me to write a guest post on his lovely blog. In keeping with his great sense of fun, I thought I’d take this opportunity to share a fun quiz.

Over the years I’ve been in touch with many proofreaders, and noticed a few common traits that we share, in addition to us all being avid readers. So, if you’re wondering whether you have the chops to join our ranks, how many of the following can you tick?:

  1. You loved school. A highlight of your school day was that moment when you’d completed a test and the teacher asked you to swap answers with your neighbour for marking. Oh, the anticipation of perfectly placed ticks and crosses.
  1. When you weren’t at school you enjoyed playing schools. Marking the work of your teddies and dolls could keep you occupied for hours.
  1. You are/were an English teacher, and as wonderful as those children are/were you long/ed for a bit of peace and quiet.
  1. When people speak to you, you correct their grammar in your head.
  1. You’re a picky person in the high street/shopping centre. All those misplaced apostrophes and misspelled words drive you potty.
  1. You read restaurant menus for typos. Once you’ve chosen your salmon in dill sauce accompanied by boiled potatoes and broccoli, rather than hand the menu back to the waiter, you’ll keep hold of it and entertain your fellow diners with the laugh-out-loud bloopers. A café in London provided my family with a full five minutes of giggles with its “Naked potatoes with choice of fillings”.
  1. You rarely read a book – traditionally published or self-published – without spotting one or two typos. The more famous the book, the more satisfying the find.
  1. You love quizzes and word puzzles. You watch all manner of quiz shows on television (my current favourite is Pointless) and regularly attend pub quizzes (my once a week habit is now down to once every three months). The day isn’t complete without a crossword.
  1. You have slight OCD tendencies. OCD is not a laughing matter and I do not wish to belittle anyone with this diagnosis, but at a different level, very mild OCD-type behaviours can indicate a strong preference for neatness and consistency that a good proofreader needs. My own mild tendencies include needing to eat an even number of biscuits at a sitting and using a particular mug for tea and a different one for coffee. I also have thing about “neat” numeric dates. For example, dates that are fully divisible by two, three, four or five cause me great joy, as do repeated numerals. I’d be genuinely excited to hear that someone was born on 10 October 2010 (10/10/10).
  1. A mindreader tells you that you’re a proofreader simply from looking at you.

OK, I might be the only one to tick this last one, but it gives me an excuse to tell a little story that makes me smile every time I remember it.

A couple of years ago I went to see Derren Brown, the fantastic illusionist and mentalist, in his London show. He said he was going to guess what job a person did just by “reading” them. Sitting in my seat in the darkened auditorium I wondered what I’d do if I caught one of the Frisbees he was throwing out to the audience. Would I step into the limelight or remain anonymous and pass the flying disc to someone else? As the plastic touched my hand I felt a jolt of excitement, jumped up from my seat, and wild horses couldn’t have stopped me from dashing up onto the stage.

A small group of us were asked to write our profession on a piece of paper and put it in a pocket. I didn’t have a pocket so I tucked my piece of paper saying “PROOFREADER” into the waistband of my trousers. He went through all the other volunteers, guessing correctly, and finally came to me. To be honest, some of his comments are now a bit of a blur, but he was witty and charming. And it turns out that I’m a closet show-off. What a thrill to stand in the spotlight! I’d not been on stage since the amateur dramatic years (maybe a post for another time…), and I loved it.

I do remember he mentioned how neat and carefully chosen my clothes were, and that I’d obviously spent time coordinating my jewellery (gulp – had he been in my bedroom earlier on when I’d been trying to decide which necklace, bracelet and earrings to wear?). With each comment he was getting closer to the right answer – working alone, stationery, pens, pencils and erasers, something to do with words. He scribbled with a black marker on a white board, and with a flourish he revealed that I was a:


I hope you’ve enjoyed my anecdote and the quiz. If you fancy a chat about words and books let’s meet via Twitter and Facebook. Also, please feel free to add your marks out of ten here, and share any other traits that you think a good proofreader needs.

..great fun, Wendy… thanks , m’Lady…



Filed under Blether, Scribbling & Stuff

35 responses to “…my good friend, Wendy Janes, poses the question… are yeez closet proofreaders?…

  1. This made me giggle; it also made me cringe a bit! I got about six and two-thirds out of ten – I hated school but loved English and also enjoy marking other people’s work! I wasn’t a teacher but was a teaching assistant, specifically for Literacy and Numeracy (with a few others things thrown in). I have only proof-read for one person; several of his books in fact. I think, on the whole, I prefer to write. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Gosh, I marked them all . . . but found out teaching writing involved so much more than marking mistakes! In fact, it involved learning not to mark every mistake so I wouldn’t terrify the students. I never did really learn to keep my red pen from inching toward the error-strewn page. I do believe that anxiety about errors keeps people from daring to write. And I’ve posted a discussion of a wonderful 1982 essay by U of Chicago prof Joseph Williams, “The Phenomenology of Error,” at justcanthelpwriting.wordpress.com. Williams says that whether or not we notice an error often depends on whether we’re specifically looking for errors. He caught the bigwigs making the very errors they told us not to make–in the very act of telling us not to. Fun stuff!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wendy

      Really enjoyed your discussion of “The Phenomenology of Error”. I hope you’ll be amused by the fact that I’ve been sitting here for a while wondering whether to place the full stop before or after the close quote, ie whether to use US or UK style. As I live in the UK, I’m going for UK. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  3. An enjoyable post. Thank you for it.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Awesome post! I loved to correct things so much and got so good at it that my recreation department had me proofread the whole 100 page catalog every three months. Then I became a freelance proofreader for several publications! Great side job. Sadly, few people hire proofreaders anymore to the detriment of the written word, thinking spellcheck with catch it. I am better than spellcheck, LOL! I’m now a writing intensive lecturer and the students visibly cringe when I tell them my history 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thanks, Wendy and Suemas. I didn’t qualify on all of the questions, but i enjoyed this little quiz. It was humorous and fun. I also enjoyed the final story. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Liz

    Oh, that’s me, that’s me! (Apart from the OCD, and nobody has EVER commented on my clothes being neat or well-chosen…)

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Terry Tyler

    I love this, and think that I may be a candidate – it’s in the family! We’re all like this, though Julia has got it worst, of course!!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. You did not say how many YES-answers were needed to join the ranks …
    *smiles smugly*

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Loved the quiz, and I’m delighted to say, I’m out of the closet! (And I’m appearing on Pointless soon, so tick, tick and tick!) Very funny, Wendy, and very well and amusingly observed.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wendy

      Really pleased you enjoyed the quiz, Julia. I think you deserve a place at the head of the proofreading class with your upcoming appearance on Pointless. (I shall remain sitting on my settee, shouting answers at the TV screen.)

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Really hilarious. (And you noted so many readers diving under the table to escape that probing gaze…)

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Oh oh, I didn’t check but one or two things. Guess that’s why my foray into proofreading a year or so ago didn’t last long. I found out quickly it wasn’t my thing. I would rather just write a good rousing story and be done with it. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I also tick quite a few. I did in Spanish in school (not so confident in Catalan) and then in English in the UK. Love the anecdote!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I used to mark up letters from unpleasant people. One was a land lord of a condominium I was renting in Seattle. He was on my case because I adopted a stray kitten and refused to get rid of it. He sent threatening letters and I marked them as a teacher would for grammar, spelling and punctuation usually with a comment like: 3/10 “There’s been no improvement.” I’d do it again.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Ruth

    Only ticks for 1. 4, 7 .. so I probably do not have the makings of a good proofreader ~ but Wendy certainly does !

    Liked by 1 person

  15. 8 out of 10 (9 if teaching Spanish counts instead of English – still grammar, after all): So I think I join the ranks. x


  16. Pauline Wiles

    OK, I only got 5, but I’m pretty over-the-top about those five. I now have a wonderful author friend who had the grace not to shun me when I very nicely sent her a list of all her errors. Yes, severe OCD tendencies here…. Great quiz, thank you!


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