Can’t afford a copy editor?

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If you’ve ever felt that you can’t afford a copy editor, here’s a suggestion that may work for you.

Copy editors — people who fix spelling and grammar mistakes and double-check dates — are not expensive. Especially when you consider the cost of the material your company is publishing. How much did you pay your graphic artist? Your web developer? Your VP of communications? In the face of that, the $30-$50 per hour for a copy editor is peanuts. A bargain, really.

But if you really and truly don’t have the cash, here’s a little-known secret: You probably have someone in-house who can do the job. Many secretaries or admin assistants or even well-read mailroom clerks are perfect for the job. Here’s why:

Copy editing is a skill you are born with. While training can make you better at it, all the schooling in the world will not help the person with no natural ability. The born copy editors are people who catch typos in everything they read. They complain about bad spelling in signs — they’re the people who roll their eyes at grocery store posters saying “Aisle reserved for 12 items or less” (it should say “12 items or fewer”). They notice and remark upon misplaced apostrophes. They never confuse affect with effect or its with it’s. They know that December 29, 2014 is a Monday not a Tuesday.

If you think of the folks in your office who are like this — and you can probably start naming them right now — then ask them to proofread your next document. They’ll likely be flattered. And it won’t cost you anything extra. Except perhaps the flowers or latte you buy them, by way of thanks.

PS: If you’re self-employed and can’t afford a copy editor you likely have a friend who’s a natural. Or the mom of a friend.

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