While quality control is essential and everything possible should be done to minimise mistakes slipping through, he argues, the occasional slip-up is an almost unavoidable by-product of any content creation process. One small error in an otherwise excellent piece of work should not become a stick with which to beat writers or reject the entire effort. He writes:
‘I believe that quality control is crucial in editorial, and no content creation process worth its salt can do without layers of fact-checking, subbing, proofing and so on. Content also needs to be checked against the brief, the tone of voice guidelines, the style guide, the business strategy and so on.
‘But. It is inevitable in editorial work that the odd mistake will occasionally creep in. That this sometimes happens is unfortunate, and we must all do everything we can to avoid it, but when it does happen it is not necessarily the end of the world. It should not be an excuse, as sometimes happens, for stakeholders to damn an entire piece of otherwise excellent work. And we should not accept at face value that everything someone says is a mistake really is a mistake: sometimes the mistake-caller is simply revealing their own ignorance.
‘At its worst, typo-spotting becomes a stick with which to beat writers. I have seen clients demand entire rewrites - and even in one case withhold payment - on the strength of a trivial spelling error. And I have also seen stakeholders publicly castigate content people because of language “errors” which were not in fact erroneous.
‘It's also true that most people cannot put together a piece of writing without at least one little error making its way through. So perhaps only he who is 100% typo-free can rightly cast the first stone.
‘When it comes to matters of right and wrong in language, we can all do with cultivating an attitude of humility: it's a very complex subject and there's always someone who knows more than you or I do.’