Thank goodness for automated proofreading

I’m constantly amazed at the seemingly unending advances in automation in virtually every sector of the printing industry today. I find it mind-boggling. Everything from colour management to finishing to billing and even delivery of the final printed product can now be automated from one easy-to-use platform. Yes, print MIS definitely rules. Dreaded downtime, touchpoints, and most importantly human errors, have been drastically reduced. But to be honest, I never thought it would encompass my passion – writing.

One example of this is Global Vision. The Montreal-based company’s automated proofreading technologies have been integrated into the workflows of leading consumer packaged goods companies worldwide, as well as printing firms and major pharmaceutical industries. Its solutions feature text-based, pixel-based and even Braille inspection technologies designed to eliminate printed artwork mistakes and copy-related errors. We’re not talking about spellcheck here, which is helpful but has its drawbacks. Global Vision’s technology covers book scanning, barcode verification, insert and outsert counting – even monitoring of wet-ink rollers to decrease ink smudges on a press sheet!

This got me to thinking about how it would have been if this technology were available when I started as a writer in the Toronto Star’s Communications Department in 1969 (i.e. before electricity).

In those days, with tight deadlines looming on five separate editions each day, we often had to make corrections by physically cutting out words or even letters with an Exacto knife on “photo composition” – black formatted type output on special coated paper that could be waxed on the back to facilitate corrections, before being made into a metal press plate.

This errr…..workflow, was not without its hazards, however. One of our top promotions in those days was our annual Christmas Carol Sheet. We’d print just over a million. On the front page this particular year, we proudly printed (after numerous proofings) the lyrics to one of the most beloved Christmas songs ever. It was titled “Away In A Manager.”

Another rather infamous example of ah…..human error was on page 3, usually reserved for a full-page ad for Honest Ed’s, one of Toronto’s most popular discount retailers. The headline this particular day (usually in two-inch-high Franklin Gothic Extra Bold) was supposed to be “Honest Ed’s Shirt Sale.” I leave it to your boundless imagination as to which consonant was omitted from the word “Shirt.”

Until next time, always remember that we’re here to help.

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Tony Curcio is the editor of Graphic Arts Magazine.