Persnickety: “Fussy about small details,” according to Merriam-Webster online. It’s not always a compliment, and one of my copy editors has used it on occasion to describe me. I don’t deny it, but I like to think it’s a positive quality, at least professionally. I do believe that spelling and grammar are important, and can affect journalistic credibility.
I’m fortunate that spelling and grammar come easily to me. They were drummed into my head when I was a student, and I read a lot as a kid, so I picked them up partly by osmosis.
But everyone makes mistakes. A friend of mine caught one or two on this blog. Often people don’t even notice written errors, but I find they tend to jump out at me. Sometimes, when I’m reading, I get the urge to edit. It’s become more frequent in recent years, likely because of a tendency toward over-reliance on Spellcheck, and also because of publishers cutting back on proofreaders.
In elementary school, one of my teachers had us read the sentence, “Paris in the the spring” out loud. Most of the students didn’t notice the extra word. I didn’t.
I believe it’s important – in life even more than in writing – to know which details to be persnickety about. Sometimes I have to remind myself. But nobody’s perfect.