Thursday, June 26, 2008


If you're reading this blog, you don't need to be told this. But just in case:

Copy editors must check all telephone numbers in the material they're editing. That means picking up the phone and calling the number. Telephone-number corrections should be virtually nonexistent. (As you also no doubt know, they're pretty common.)

The same goes for Web addresses.


JD (The Engine Room) said...

Guilty secret time: we don't check phone numbers on our publication. We often publish show guides or listings with dozens or hundreds of phone numbers, and checking them all would be very time consuming. That's one side of the equation. The other is that they are rarely wrong - we haven't needed a phone number correction in the three years I have worked there. It may of course be that we have published wrong numbers but no one has seen fit to complain.

We do check web addresses though, which are much more likely to be wrong - either because the writer has tapped them in incorrectly or because the address of the page has changed since the copy was written (suprisingly common).

Would you suggest that copy editors should also check email addresses and postal addresses?

Blork said...

JD: you're fired.

Bill: word.

Clare said...

We used to call them our nuisance calls: 'Hallo, is that Greenfingers Garden Centre? ... Thank you very much, that's all I needed to know.'

An old editor of mine told a very sad story about the time she put an incorrect phone number in an article.

She had to ring an elderly lady in Acton Town and apologise for all the calls she was getting. The lady said 'It's not that I mind so much, dear, but it's such an effort to get up out of my chair, and so very disappointing that the call isn't for me.'

Whenever I am tempted to skip a phone number check, I think of that little old lady in Acton Town struggling to get out of her chair every time the phone rings; discovering it's not for her, and then going back, only to have the phone ring again.

Unknown said...

I think that it may have more to do with the source, and type of source.
For example:
If I tell you verbally that the phone number for complaints is fie-fie-fie-on-too-tree-fo, you might want to call and verify, or verify by another means, such as a website, phonebook, etc.
But, if I email you that the number is 202-555-1234, then maybe assume that it is correct.