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Columbia Missourian

DEAR READER: Getting it right seems to be a universal desire

By Maggie Walter
January 7, 2012 | 3:45 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA — Show Me the Errors participants help us every month in the quest to make the content at ColumbiaMissourian.com as exact as possible.

Of course, in the process of editing, most copy editors go to the usual sources —  stylebooks for the Missourian and The Associated Press, a dictionary, Roget's Thesaurus and "Working with Words" co-authored by Brian Brooks, associate dean of the Missouri School of Journalism. 

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But the online world is rich with sources, too, with blogs and websites that explore the foibles of grammar and the outright errors in public signs and announcements.

My Google Reader is loaded with a variety of such helpful sites. Many of these bookmarked sites are written by uber grammarians who find errant punctuation and grammar errors in the world at large. Others write in-house critiques to help their own staff improve, but they also share them for the edification of readers.

Often, these writers cross-reference their colleagues in the world of editing, citing their comments and expanding on them with additional examples from their own work. Many of these blogs and websites also cross-list similar sites, making the world of editing a collegial enterprise. 

Among the sites bookmarked on my Google Reader are:

I feel pretty confident that regular contributors to Show Me the Errors are the type of people who would also find treasures of learning at these sites. If you would like to share your favorites, please send me an email or post them in the comments section for this article, so other readers can enjoy them, too.

For the December 2011 contest, there were 26 eligible contestants, who submitted 53 corrections. Leading the entrants with 22 submissions was Jim Terry, an assistant professor of art history at Stephens College. Terry is the most regular of our participants, and we always benefit from his comments. (Maybe, he should start his own blog like those listed above.)

The winner for the month, determined by a drawing based on one entry for each submitted correction, is Dawn Cox. She pointed out our failure to differentiate between Troy, Mo., and Troy, Ill., an excellent suggestion as our mission is to help readers understand what's going on in their world. Editing that leads to confusion certainly falls short of serving our readers.

She will receive a copy of "The Great Typo Hunt" and a Missourian T-shirt.

We hope that you, too, will join Show Me the Errors and the world of bloggers who are working to clean up confusion and eliminate errors.

Maggie Walter is an associate professor at the Missouri School of Journalism and an interactive news editor at ColumbiaMissourian.com. She's intrigued by the recent spate of Facebook posts, blog entries and personal statements that have blasted making New Year's resolutions. "Intentions," "goals" and "to-do lists" are the new favored words, which she sees as a semantic difference to lessen the guilt of once again not doing what we set out to do. Best wishes for a 2012 filled with interesting challenges.