Why you need a proofreader…

Reading time: Less than 1 minute

Don’t let jargon cause you to make embarrassing typographical errors. Everything you write needs a proofreader, even if you can’t afford having a professional do it…

I volunteer at my local high school, where I’m the debate coach. I love working with teenagers — I find their energy infectious. But as I stroll the long hallways, I occasionally see signage that makes me feel crazy. I’ve reproduced one of those signs above. (Apologies for the cropping — I took a vertical photo when I should have remembered to take a horizontal one.)

Why would one attach the label of “stigma” to the term “mental health”? Of course it’s an error. Not one made by the teenagers, I’m guessing. My hunch is that an over-zealous school counsellor produced this one. This is likely because, in his or her brain, the word “stigma” has become inextricably linked with mental health.

And of course, there is plenty of stigma facing kids with mental health illness, such as anxiety and depression. But  there’s no stigma facing kids lucky enough to enjoy excellent mental health. Sadly, the importance of this message is lost — in fact, it’s reversed — in this poorly worded sign.

I’ve hidden the name of the school because I don’t want to embarrass them, but I think their mistake presents an object lesson in how careful it’s important to be with wording. Particularly with words that get thrown together a lot. If you’re ever responsible for signage, be sure to have a half dozen people proofread it for you to catch any glaring errors like this. (Most offices and schools have at least one person who can find a typo in just about anything.) And if you’re a corporation, for goodness’ sake, hire a professional proofreader.


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