During a recent writing experience, my colleague found factual errors. I was reminded how we need to be our own copy editors. It is imperative. Most of us don’t have vigilant colleagues like I do. My colleague lives in a world of disbelief. She doesn’t believe anything that’s stated as a fact. Instead, she looks it up. And then she asks for clarification.
The more we write, the more likely that our mistakes either become embedded in an historical record, or originate from a mistake made elsewhere. Just because I say it’s so in writing, does not make it so. What if my mistake is picked up by some other author who has used Google to search for information, and repeats it verbatim? Or what if I get the correct information, but type it up incorrectly?
Before circulating a document, do a quick check on anything that you found from a third-party source. Name? Of course you want the correct spelling. But, did someone change William to Willie? Did you assume that Wilie is a man? Does Willie use a middle initial? And what about Willie’s title? Has it changed since the last recorded usage? Check it out. Just because you find it online, that doesn’t absolve you of getting it right. Didn’t your mother tell you not to believe everything you read online? How about calling that person’s office? Check a source. Then another. Ask them about official usage, names, dates, titles. Don’t be guilty of passing along someone else’s typographical error or short-cut.
When you receive information from a third party, treat it like testimony from an ex-con. Anything that has the sound of a fact, can be mistaken, misrepresented, or distorted. We like this little video, that captures the legitimacy that some confer on anything found on the internet. A little due diligence will go a long way to building and protecting your reputation, and you just might uncover something valuable along the way.