Friday, May 18, 2012

Blog Challenge #3: Reading speeds and editing

I'm not a fast reader. Even if the Staples eReader speed reading test stays I read faster than 60% of the nation, I just know I'm not a fast reader. Never have been and it has frustrated me in the past because friends would finish books hours (in some instances days) before I would and sometimes spoil the ending for me. In high school, I started "skimming" through texts I had to read just to avoid this and the bad habit stayed through college. Mind you, some of the reading material we had in college was boring as hell and skimming saved my sanity (and my eyesight) but it made it difficult and sometimes even more frustrating when someone would catch something I missed.

When I started working in the textbook publishing industry, one of my first jobs required me to do a Quality Control check (QC) on page elements. We were expressly told NOT to read text but to review the "look" of the page. Were there widows, orphans on the page? How many sentences started with the same word? How much white space was there between paragraphs? Were the headers equidistant and centered across the page as required? What about styling? Were there any "soft returns", manual line breaks or double spaces after periods? If so, we fixed those elements then sent the text back to copyedit to review for consistency, grammar, spelling and fact-checking.

Unfortunately, I had a real difficult time NOT reading the text and would catch misspellings, comma splices and poor sentence structure in the text then get verbally reprimanded for marking it up. I couldn't help it! I can't NOT read the text and if I see a wrong, I must right it! I MUST!

You can see why I got along with the editors and copy editors better than the production teams now, don't you? As time went by, I learned to QC without reading and just "skimmed" the text for anything that stood out in glaring detail. I became the nightmare of many restaurant waitress whose menus had typos and poor design. I would actually take out my green pen (red = editorial, blue = design, green = QC) and mark-up their paper menus. Now, I can't read anything without looking at the whole picture. If there are too many similar words together in a paragraph (or several sentences start the same way) I stop and mark it up on my eReader. Sad, I know but it's just a part of who I am now.

ereader test

What about you? Do you read pretty fast? Do you skim the text when you read at a quicker pace?