Wanted: Prooffreader

November 12, 2009

I apologize for this photo’s utter lack of awesomeness, but A) I was armed with only a mediocre cell-phone camera and B) the light was turning green and I opted to pay attention to my driving — unlike some of you!

If it’s too fuzzy to make out, let me transcribe the important part for you:

Make your spare change hot 'n juicy.

As a guy who’s a bit of a stickler for proper writing and grammar, I look at that and think, “Is Wendy’s offering to make my change ‘hot an juicy’?”¬†Of course, the sharp-eyed among us noticed the missing apostrophe: It should say “hot 'n' juicy.” You know, because you’re leaving out the A and the D.

I don’t pretend to be infallible, but I do indeed proofread my work. And I pay special attention to shorter, high-visibility bits of text, as they tend to hold the most potential for¬†embarrassment.

(Aside: I learned this lesson while working at my college newspaper, when one of my colleagues invented what we decided was a new adverb, “pawlently,” in a headline on a story about Minnesota’s governor. No one else caught the mistake, and it went to print; we later jokingly used the word in casual coversation: “He walked pawlently into the night…”)

So in this Wendy’s ad, did no one look closely at the copy before sending if off to the printer? To me, that first apostrophe stands out. It draws the attention of a careful writer or proofreader, begging to be verified and approved. How does a writer not notice the missing one? Do we blame lack of sleep, apathy or something else?

Editor’s note: Yes, the headline is intentional.