Q&A with Shana McNally, proofreader at Costco

Shana McNally is corporate proofreader at Costco Wholesale, a job she has held since 2008. Her duties include proofing marketing communications, packaging and the employee magazine. She also develops and maintains style guides. She previously worked at The Associated Press and at SportsZone, the precursor to ESPN.com. In this interview, conducted by email, McNally talks about her job at Costco and editing in the corporate world.

Q. Describe your job at Costco. What is your typical day like?

A. It’s hard to describe a typical day other than to say we always start with a morning production meeting. Most days, I see more than 15 proofs for marketing (coupon books, opening pieces, Costco Travel catalogs, etc.), a couple of packaging proofs and a few FOPs (items ready to go out the door that need one more look). I tend to do the faster stuff in the morning and save the bigger projects for the afternoon.

One of my favorite parts of this profession is that you can always learn more. If I have any free time, I try to spend it on education, whether it be taking quizzes or reading grammar books or copyediting books.

Q. What are some of the common glitches that come up in Costco copy?

A. The most common glitches that come up in copy are the day and date not matching, spelling errors, missing words, legal edits and repeated words.

Q. You are a member of the American Copy Editors Society and have attended its conferences the past several years. What do you like about ACES?

A. There’s so much to be gained from ACES. I love the fact that I always have someone to reach out to if I have a question.

I’ve also gained so many tips and tricks, as well as resources like books to read and quizzes to take. In addition, I’ve been able to participate in several job shadows with fellow ACES members.

Finally, when I attend conferences, I really appreciate the reassurance that the way I do things is just fine.

Q. What advice do you have for editors looking for work at a company like Costco?

A. My strongest advice for editors looking to work at a company like Costco is to check it out in advance, whether it’s with an informational interview, a job shadow or an internship. Coming from a newspaper background, I’d say that it’s very different, and it’s not for everyone. The variety is a huge advantage, but to many, working at a corporation is a disadvantage.

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