Saturday, September 17, 2011

Self Assured Quality

by Robert L. Gisel

 Manure happens, so it is always a good idea to check your work. With a broom and a shovel handy.

 Another read, with yet another missed comma, wrong side of the homonym, or any of a zillion potential typos -- it never ceases to amaze how an error can still show up after so many edits.

 Nevertheless, this very important activity is too often brushed off. QC (Quality Control), a quality check on the work you just did, can set you apart as a professional.

 When omitted, when even one error sneaks through, stature and reputation for your works take a dive.

 Of course, for the writer this means using the spell and grammar checking tools, as well as editing out verbosity and needless stating of the obvious. This advice would seem ever so hackneyed, but it is surprising how often one sees errors in misplaced wording that would make the publisher choke. Like using "there" for "their".

 "Refudiate" is okay as long as you know you are doing it. When you coin a word like "scenarama", propose it to Wikionary with your article as the reference and make it official.

 This is true irony for someone who used to think a spellchecker was someone who sat in your lap. You embrace the tech so you can concentrate on the fun things like creative style and clever insight. While you embrace the spellchecker who sits in your lap.

 A good once-over applies to works of any kind. It is a wise person who returns to view the constructed scene as if a "newbie", and make needed adjustments before you close the hood, turn out the lights to go home, hit the send button, or make that next chess move. It is a checkmate that you want, in all your works.

 The trick for the author is to give it a fresh read from not your own viewpoint, but to see it as if a different person entirely, and one who is seeing it for the first time. You simply consider what would QC observe if QC were looking it over.

 You can also do this trick from the viewpoint of the eventual consumer, considering how it comes across as communication to the recipient. Reading the text aloud helps spot anomalies in grammar or unclear meaning.

 This little step, wearing one's hat as the Quality Control person, can make all the difference in ensuring the craftsmanship and the professionalism is complete.

 So, check your work, before the manure hits the fan.


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