Sometimes, typesetters are mischievous

Back in the old days of graphics offices, typesetters had a tough job. Well, they still do, but the equipment was much clunkier back then. Factor in the stress of deadlines and other pressures, and it was no wonder that sometimes they got a little punchy.

Sometimes, for a first pass on a job (the one I’d proofread and mark up), they would insert little comments and jokes into the copy so I’d run across them as I read. Of course, they’d delete these from the file immediately so there was no way a client would actually ever see them. But oh, how they made me laugh.

We once had a rather large project in-house, a book. Galleys and galleys of type, and the subject matter was the Shroud of Turin. Yes, really. Exciting reading, that.

The writer was footnote-happy. Nearly every page in the book had at least one footnote, in 6-point italics. Especially annoying was his penchant for starting every footnote with: “It is the author’s opinion that….” Over and over, page after page, “It is the author’s opinion that….”

So here I was, plowing through this tedious job, when I came to the bottom of a page and started to read the footnotes. However, there seemed to be one more footnote on the galley than there was on the hard copy. I inspected the typeset copy more closely, and then laughed myself silly.

The operator had typed, in the same style as the other footnotes: “It is the typesetter’s opinion that the author of this book should have been smothered in his cradle.”