Watch Out For Muphry’s Law! – Proofreading Should Not Be Underestimated

Proofreading is probably the most annoying task when one is writing any piece of text. One reason for this might be that proofreading is usually the last task before the job is done. Other aspect is the uncertain benefits of proofreading; it can be totally pointless job if there’s nothing to fix or if you are blind for your own mistakes.

The oppressive feeling that if you do check the text properly then there’s nothing to fix, and if you just skim the text superficially then it will be full of typos and misspellings, can be incapacitating. Luckily there’s Muphry’s law to make it sure that this feeling won’t be wasted.

Muphry’s law ensures that if you write with a critical voice anything about proofreading, there will be some faults in your text. Muphry’s law is as versatile as its ancestor Murphy’s law which states: anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. Muphry’s law (according to John Bangsund) indicates at least four ways: (a) if you write anything criticizing editing or proofreading, there will be a fault of some kind in what you have written; (b) if an author thanks you in a book for your editing or proofreading, there will be mistakes in the book; (c) the stronger the sentiment expressed in (a) and (b), the greater the fault; (d) any book devoted to editing or style will be internally inconsistent (source).

In spite of the fact that Muphry’s law is unfair and irritating, it’s somehow comforting that Muphry’s law exists. I mean that it’s nice to know that the phenomenon is so well known that it has a name. It doesn’t concern just me or you; it’s a common fact. In-depth proofreading, which is made preferably by someone else than the writer, is the strongest shield against this ruthless law.

Have you been a victim of Muphry’s law?

2 thoughts on “Watch Out For Muphry’s Law! – Proofreading Should Not Be Underestimated”

  1. I like your post. There are certain procedures that you need to be familiar with when it comes to proofreading. I have found your blog to be quite useful.

    Actually, the writing process of the research papers does not end without proofreading the pages of the document. That is why you must have an idea how to proofread articles from simple essays to thesis papers.

  2. Thanks for your comment, Leisel! Unlike many believe, proofreading is not easy. I have been present in numerous doctoral dissertations and found that practically all of them contain typing errors (some of them even critical!). This example shows that even with great care it is often impossible to avoid errors completely.

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