by Irene Wong
“Checkadding” means adding, subtracting, multiplying, checking percentages and other calculations that may be required to verify the data in front of you. Of course the thought of checkadding a publication of tables is extremely daunting. However, it will probably be the most important edit you can undertake. After all, the accuracy of the data is your main aim.
I don’t need to warn editors not to assume anything. I think we are a pretty sceptical group. We know when our authors say they have spell checked text that they probably did at one stage but not at the very end. You must not assume that they have checkadded or proofread their tables.
I have even had experiences where tables generated from databases do not contain what they purport to include. For example, did the author really include all wheat production or was only wheat for grain used, leaving out wheat for stockfood. You may have to look at figures in a couple of tables and do some calculations to verify what actually was included in each one.
You could checkadd using a hand calculator or the facility on your word processor. If you do a screen check be absolutely certain that all columns and all rows have been checked. Whatever method you use, keep a hard copy next to you and methodically tick each row and column as you check it. Some rows or columns may have two or three ticks against them as you check each possible calculation of the total.
If you obtain a different figure from the given one then pencil your answer in and later you can decide where the problem is. Sometimes when you locate an error you may need to identify the problem immediately because it is vital to other totals in your table(s). Some differences will be due to rounding.
If your table includes confidentialised (that is, unpublished confidential) cells try to get the missing data, pencil them in and then checkadd.
You should checkadd across and down. If two columns or rows have been entered correctly but have been transposed you may still arrive at a correct total by adding one way only. By checkadding every combination will you be certain of covering every error.
You will be most surprised to see the errors checkadding picks up which proofreading doesn’t.
Last updated 18 May 1999