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Common Things Proofreaders Miss


Updated: November 11, 2014

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  1. OK. I sort of got it.

    RE: BOLO – how about BOTO? Be On The Lookout? I used to work for Acronyms R Us (jk, jk).

    Now, about “everything” vs “every thing” – everything/every thing is not clear to me in that example. How would you use “everything” correctly in a sentence? I get the “every thing”, but not the “everything”.

    Thanks – your loyal student, BevAgain. (I almost got a headache reading the PDF of a court transcription … oy).

    1. BOTO wouldn’t really work — where’s the L? In my book, “BOTL” is most correct, but that’s not how law enforcement uses it 😉
      “Everything” is a general term: “Everything is horrible.” “Every thing” is more specific: “Every thing I do, he yells at me!”
      The first PDF is hard, I know 🙂 Hang in there.

      1. I meant BOTL (pronounced “bottle”, as in: I’m hittin’ the BOTL after this transcript).

      2. Having worked in law enforcement as a police officer and a 911 dispatcher, we’ve never used the acronym BOLO here. I’ve only heard it used on the TV shows. Here, we’ve always used ATL. No, I have never lived there, but in police jargon it stands for Attempt To Locate. Serves the same purpose as a BOLO, just a different acronym. I’ve also heard of others from TV such as an APB. I’m sure there must be more out there, just thought I’d share the one from this neck of the woods. 🙂

  2. Siri spells seat belt as seatbelt…could both be correct?

    1. Yes, as long as things are consistent… although I always go with the dictionary spelling and/or the most commonly used one on Google 🙂

      1. Caitlin,
        Which dictionary do you prefer or download?
        Judy Grill, new student

  3. Dear Caitlin,

    I was totally overjoyed to find your website two nights ago.! I immediately
    signed up for your seven day course, and I will also sign up for the
    ” Transcript Proofreading” course.

    You are definitely the answer to my many years of searching, praying, and trying all sorts of ways, to be free to travel, and make money at the same time!

    This opportunity means the world to me! THANK YOU for all the hard work that
    you did, to put these courses together, and for being so kind to share them with
    everyone who is trying to enjoy a better lifestyle.

    I will share your website with many other people.

    Thanks very much.
    God bless.
    Gavin.

    1. Gavin, I’m glad you’re excited! I hope you are ready to work. This is a fun way to work, but you have to be EXCELLENT at the job to truly succeed. So when going through the course, keep this in mind. Take your time. Don’t let the excitement of making money detract from your ultimate goal: mastery.

      1. Yes. Excellence and Mastery first and foremost. Leave “Money” alone until you’re ready to graduate. Don’t even “think” about the “Money” part (if you can! 🙂 till you’re good and ready and have already Mastered all your lessons, then “go for it!”

  4. Caitlin,

    I wanted to thank you for this course. I can appreciate the time and effort it must have taken to put it together.

    I am going through the modules and have to say I almost got a headache going through the PDF file! 🙁 However, I thank you, it is so necessary!!!

    Be well,
    Eva

    1. It is tough stuff, I know 🙂 You are very welcome! I love what I do.

  5. Hi Caitlin,

    I just wanted to point out that gambit is not just a misspelling of “gamut.” It is a word in its own right:

    a planned series of moves at the beginning of a game of chess;

    something done or said in order to gain an advantage or to produce a desired result.

    I know it’s really easy to interchange the two, but I didn’t see that you had indicated that “gambit” was a valid word in the correct setting.

    Thanks for all the great info and your incredibly encouraging way of transferring information!

    1. Thank you for the clarification — yes, gambit does have its own meaning. It’s just so often used in place of “gamut” I felt it deserved a place on the list 😉

  6. Hi Caitlin,

    Reaching this stage of the course I want to congratulate you for the clear, simple and precise way you are stating ‘everything’ regarding the procedure to be followed so that we all “students” can understand very well. You are a super teacher!!

    Despina

  7. Hi Caitlin! This is very helpful, I’m on day 2 of the course and loving it.

    To clarify about “everyone” vs “every one”…is it ever acceptable to use “everyone”? If you’re referring to a group of people – “Everyone is having fun.”?

  8. Hi Caitlin!

    I was curious on your resource for “back seat” as two words. Merriam-Webster defines it as one word and I’ve always written it as such.

    Thank you!

    1. It depends on whether it’s used as a noun or an adjective. You will often see people writing about the “backseat” of a car, but the standard and still most common spelling of the noun form is as two words: “back seat.” “Small children should ride in the back seat.” “In a crisis, planning takes a back seat to immediate action.”

      The one-word adjective “backseat” is used when it describes where something is. “The backseat area is cramped in this model ” “Don’t be a backseat driver.” Some people prefer the hyphenated spelling “back-seat” for this sort of use: the back-seat area, a back-seat driver … but I’m not one of those people 🙂

      1. You might want to change your notation on seat belt above on this webpage, because there you simply said it was 2 words. Obviously, now that I read this post, I realize there’s more to it. I only bring it to your attention because when I saw the notation on ‘seat belt’ I wrote it in my notes. Just changed my notes. : )

  9. This is so helpful, thank you Caitlin. Has anyone used this site? http://grammarist.com I have used it on a few occasions and I find it really helpful with words like these.

    1. Caitlin,
      These disparities are a killer. I don’t know which to believe or use.
      Judy

  10. USPS definitely uses ZIP Code (with the trademark symbol) but Wikipedia says that the trademark for the term ZIP Code has expired. How fussy do we need to be about the capitalization of Code in this instance?

    1. I would personally correct it once, give the reason (even though their trademark is expired, that is still their word which they created), and if the reporter does not correct it, let it be. It’s their transcript 🙂 It’s most important that ZIP be all caps (never, ever “zip code”) because it’s an acronym.

  11. Caitlin, please add me to the PA Facebook group. Thank you so much!!!

  12. You and the course you offer are truly a blessing! I can’t thank you enough for the opportunity this has given not only myself, but my growing family!!!

  13. Apparently I’ve been using the British spelling for “cancelled” my whole life! I had no idea 🙂

    1. Actually, I was taught to spell it “cancelled” so this is a huge surprise to me as well. I have always corrected it from one “L” to two….

  14. I can’t let this “cancelled” vs “canceled” thing go. It bugs me and here’s why. I was taught to spell it in American English as “cancelled”. A double “L” vs a single “L” will tell you how that vowel before the “L” or “LL” is pronounced. Meaning in this instance of “cancelled”, the “E” before the double “LL” will be a short vowel and with “canceled”, the “E” before a single “L” will be a long “E” making it sound more like “concealed” (except with an “A”).

    Another example: the word “plan”. The “N” is doubled on the short vowel whereas if the word only had one “N”, the word would be entirely different. It would then become “planed” (with a long “a”). “Planed”, like planed wood, is a level wood.

    So HOW important is this word? This is a lifelong habit ?, Caitlin, and I’m older than you! ?

    1. The most important thing in this line of work is to find out your client’s preference. Oxford Dictionary makes it very clear that the double “L” is the British spelling while the single “L” is the American spelling, but I can completely relate to the frustration of having been taught things completely differently. The English language is ever evolving, and to stay relevant in this industry, proofreaders need to remain flexible to accommodate their clients’ differing preferences. (I am a die-hard Oxford comma fan, so I really understand the frustration when “they” go and change things on us! LOL)

      1. Yeah I know what the Oxford said LOL. I think my formative years were already in place by the time the changes started showing up. I have been correcting it for years. So good point on client preferences. Thanks for your response – and reminder.

  15. I’ve been wrestling with this for hours. I believe you’ve transposed your answers of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ on your examples of the set of words everything/every thing. I cannot find an example that shows that my set of answers is incorrect. If that’s clear as mud. I know that I could be mistaken but if you show me where that rule is? I’d be grateful. In each sentence, the word everything seems to be the correct choice. Everything, defined as being:
    a. All things or all of a group of things, or;
    b. Every single thing; every particular of an aggregate or total; all.
    With usage shown as:
    everything
    You use everything to refer to all the objects, actions, activities, or facts in a particular situation.

    I’m all about learning what I don’t know. I couldn’t wrap my head around the examples shown, so went looking for clarification, but found only further examples of the answers as I see as correct answers. Being given a source or different way of explanation will just help me see how or why I’m wrong if that’s the case.

    Really loving everything I’ve learned to this point and I find myself excited about learning more and more.
    Thanks for your help!

    1. Here are some examples of “every thing” used incorrectly:

      – “I know how to ride a bike and every thing.” (It should be “everything.”)
      – “Every thing is going wrong today!” (It should be “everything,” but *could* be “every [little] thing” or “every [single] thing”. “Every thing” just looks wrong because unless a “specific” word is used like “little” or “single,” then it’s general.)

      Here are some examples of “everything” used incorrectly:
      – “I bought everything on the list.” VERY technically, it should be “every thing.”
      – “Everything that comes out of your mouth makes me squirm.”

      Obviously, it’s a lot easier to identify when the two-word version is being used incorrectly than the one-word version. A rule of thumb is to use the one word version when it’s general.

      1. Yikes! If “Everything is going wrong today” is correct, why isn’t “Everything that comes out of your mouth…” correct? The second example could refer to words, food or noises, all of which could make you squirm.

        1. Consider the setting to help you determine if it’s specific or general. “Everything is going wrong today” is a broad statement and hopefully an exaggeration! “Every thing that comes out of your mouth” is (most likely) referring to a specific conversation, a limited circumstance. Does that help?

    1. Yes and no — there are the same words but with explanations added, plus the accompanying 100-question worksheet.

  16. Ok, totally lost on the everything vs every (space) thing. The only thing I could find on it, was that when using every (space) thing, one is supposed to use a modifier between the two words.

    Ex-every LITTLE thing she does
    (Yes, a Beatles lyric)

    Otherwise, the word everything is the preferred usage.

    Ps-no, I don’t have that rare, expensive 1997 out of print reference book, whatever the name of it is. So, someone please enlighten me!

    1. True, the one-word spelling is more common and has just about become the default spelling. That being said, it only comes down to a matter of emphasis between individual items or a collective of things, as fine a line as it can be between the two. 🙂

  17. So I have realized early on that it is always a GREAT idea to read Unit page and then skip on down to the comments, prior to getting too deep in the lessons and/or handouts.
    This helps for these reasons:

    a) I get the heads up on what may be tricky;
    b) I get the explanation, often more than once 😉 and…
    c) I don’t ask the same questions

    The comments are super helpful!
    Thanks all!

    1. Glad you’re finding great value in the comments section! 🙂

  18. I used to struggle so much with who’s/whose. So I just figured out that who’s and whose sound like it’s and its. Who’s and it’s are contractions and whose and its are possessives. I could never understand whose and who’s in school. Most of my English teachers used to throw so many grammar rules out at one time. I felt so overwhelmed after class. Your example made it so much easier for me to understand the difference between who’s and whose. I still struggle with words such as everyday and every day. This list will be helpful for me to overcome my struggles.

  19. Fun Fact: Did you know that the “ZIP” in ZIP Code is actually an acronym?
    It stands for Zone Improvement Program. The Zone Program was a postal service experiment that almost no one remembers.
    Perhaps the only thing people remember is that weird line in Elvis Presley’s song “Return to Sender” which has the line, “No such number. No such zone.”
    Thank goodness he wrote the song when he did. “No such number. No such Zip Code.” just doesn’t flow as well.

    1. LOL Too true!! It just wouldn’t flow at all!

      I always keep a post it on my monitor for certain punctuation rules that never seem to look right but are – such as rules for quotes in sentences. ugh!

  20. Google says “everything” is correct-that it is now the default spelling for every thing (2 separate words). Do I just highlight it for the CR and move on?

  21. How do we know when or when not to put Canadian/British spellings into effect? or to correct them? In effect, how do we look out for them? to know when to correct them?

    1. You should always use American English spelling. 🙂

  22. I am really enjoying this. I do have to say though, I am a little nervous. There are so many words to look out for. I seem to keep going over and over them. I think I just need to print these out, put them on flash cards and move forward. I will never finish this module if I keep worrying about it too much.

    1. You’re right — don’t let worrying get in the way! You will get plenty of practice and familiarity with these words. 🙂

      1. Thank you 😉 I am currently going over the British and American spelling. AYE! lol I am thinking positive though.

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