Proofreading Numbers

Last week I pontificated about the importance of checking the text in your figures and diagrams for misspellings.

This week I shall rant about checking the numbers in your text, both in the body and in the figure captions.

Here are two “oopsies” I found in a recent editing session:

1) On August 18, 2020, a horizontal well was drilled….
Oh, really, Mr. Time Traveler! So you came back to 2010 in your time machine to let us know how that well turned out, eh?
I was really impressed with this new approach to proactive reservoir management. Then it dawned on me that it might be a case of finger slippage on the keyboard, as the numbers 1 and 2 are next-door neighbors.

2) Formation water resistivity is about 0.2 ohm·m at 1115°F….
Yikes! Surely you don’t need to be doing a steamflood if the reservoir is already that hot! Fortunately, I saw a couple of other resistivity values in the neighborhood that had been measured at 115°F, so I figured the fickle finger of fate had fluttered one time too many.

Although such errors are easily explained, the result of not catching them could result in your reader doubting as to whether some of the other numbers in your report are accurate. These numerical typos will never be caught by any Spell Checker, so be sure to check all numbers yourself, or have a second set of eyes check them for you.

2 Responses to “Proofreading Numbers”

  1. Carla Marceau Says:

    “doubting as to whether some of the other numbers in your report are accurate”? Did you mean to write “wondering if the other numbers” or “doubting that the other numbers”?

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