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The Proofreader’s Paradox

Posted by Mario Stylianou Categories: Technology

On page four of a literary work is a reference to something that appears on “page five.” But the thing being referenced appears at the very top of page six. So I change the reference from “page five” to “page six.” All is good.

But in so doing, because the word “six” is shorter than “five,” and word and line breaks being what they are, everything thereafter shifts up a little, and the thing that previously appeared at the top of page six now appears at the bottom of page five.

Without changing other aspects of the document, I am unable to correctly reference the thing being referenced.

I shut my laptop, find a seat on the floor in the corner of the room, focus on an indistinct point on the opposite wall while hugging my legs, and rock backwards and forwards as tears stream down my face.

 

(Original source plus some grammatical changes of my own)

Mario Stylianou


 

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