In this 5 min podcast I explore scientific evidence for what kind of error correction rate is humanly feasible. We’ll look at industry standards for copyeditors and proofreaders, too.
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Mentioned in this podcast:
- “The Mysterious Relationship: Authors and Their Editors” by Rosemary Shipton, in the 2011 compilation Editors, Scholars, and the Social Text.
- Dr. Panko’s research on Human Error
- Rich Adin: An American Copyeditor
- Another post on error rates in books and what triggers a reprint: “How many errors trigger a reprint?” And the podcast version with extended content (8 min).
Calculating Save Percentage
Number of errors corrected ÷ Total number of errors in the document
So, if you catch one of the two errors in a 60,000 word document, your save percentage is .5 (50%).
Greg Ioannou raised an interesting observation in a Facebook discussion: you get a kind of correction fatigue working on documents that are just riddled with errors. This is based on his (mumble) years’ experience supervising other editors.
He explained it with “a made-up example: If the editor catches 9 errors in a 1,000-word passage, you can assume there’s 1 error that the editor missed (a 90% save rate). If the editor catches 90 errors in a 1,000-word passage, you can assume there are 20 errors the editor missed (a 78ish% save rate). The worse the document, the lower the save rate will be.”