Final Eyes: old-world skills, new-age technology


Originally published in Taos News

Barbara Scott, owner of Final Eyes, an editing, proofreading and typography service, started early in the business.

“I began in 1981,” she said. “It was just a type house and all I did was typography, but I learned a lot from the art directors and designers I worked for. Then I started hiring people as the business grew.”

Her first client was Westword, a Denver-based alternative newspaper.

“It was the perfect first client,” Scott said. “They recommended me to a number of arts and cultural organizations in Denver…my business grew totally by word of mouth.”

The importance of being kind

Obviously, people get into business to make money, but doing things for free, or almost, can also take an entrepreneur a long way.

“I once did a postcard for an indie bookstore and only charged the owner ten dollars,” Scott said. “It just seemed the right thing to do — plus it was fun. Well, the owner recommended me to the art director at the Denver Tourism Bureau, and I got a $50,000-a-year account from that one $10 job.”

During the ’80s Scott continued growing her company, Scott Group, and added production and editing to her services.

Then the Mac came around…

The Macintosh designer tools made it possible for many design firms to start typesetting their own text.

“Most of them did a pitiful job of it, because they were visual people, not detail oriented,” Scott said. “The typography, for example, was just awful. But we kept losing clients until one day, when I said to my last employee, ‘These people just need a set of final eyes!’”

That was how Scott Group became Final Eyes. A perfectly smooth transition, said Scott, who now edits and consults on typography and design issues.

“I transitioned from typography to the Mac without major stumbling blocks because I decided to incorporate new technology into my work,” she said. “If you want to stay in the game, you can’t be afraid of technology.”

Ink in the blood

Scott’s father was in the printing business.

“He gave me my first job,” she said.

Scott’s parents were middle-class and well-off but they refused to send their daughters to college.

“They wanted us to learn a trade instead,” she said, “so I learned typesetting, which has made me more valuable in my business and has taken me further than any kind of formal education could have.”

Later in life she finished a Bachelor of University Studies at UNM-Taos.

“I took my first linguistics class with Larry Torres when I was 53 years old,” she said. “My fiancé, Michael Burney, suggested I might like it. I ended up that semester taking Latin and philosophy, as well, and loved all three!”

She went on to earn a master’s from St. John’s College in Santa Fe.

“I’m happy I went to college at the time of my life I did,” she said. “Since I was older, I had a context and a foundation for understanding everything I learned in the classroom.”


Final Eyes offers editing services, “not to change the writer’s voice but to make it sound better,” Scott said.

She deals a lot with punctuation, grammar and spelling issues, but she also looks at pieces designed by someone else and tells the designer what to do so it looks more professional.

“I bring not only my technical skills but also my esthetic sense to the project,” she said.

She does layout (the interior design of a book, which usually means converting it from a Word document to an InDesign file), editing, copyediting, and typography.

When clients are interested in self-publishing, Scott uses CreateSpace, an Amazon print-on-demand publishing service. Sometimes she partners with Rebecca Lenzini, owner of Nighthawk Press, and Steve Fox, whom she relies on for final proofreading.

“Along with Bonnie Black, who does content editing, and Lesley Cox, a designer, we have a great little publishing team here in Taos,” she said.

Scott can do everything for a book, from editing to formatting to getting it published.

“It all depends on what people need,” she said. “My niche is narrow and my services unique because I combine an extensive knowledge of typography and design with an understanding of contemporary discourse and language in general.”

The best piece of advice she can give to a young entrepreneur is: “Never complain to your client. Behave as if no matter what kind of problem he or she has, you can solve it — then figure it out. And always, always be grateful for the work people are giving you.”

The biggest challenge in this business (besides wearing many hats, as Scott does) is never knowing exactly what your income is going to be.

“But I love working in this field, with language and design and writers,” she said. “I also like bringing something important to fruition. To witness a writer’s joy at having a finished, published book is my greatest satisfaction in this profession.”

Satisfied clients speak

Scott has clients in Colorado, California, Chicago, Atlanta, and even Canada. She also works with local authors.

Bonnie Lee Black is among the local writers she has worked for. Scott took the manuscripts of How to Cook a Crocodile and How to Make an African Quilt, imported the text from a Word doc, designed the interior, imported photographs, and put it all together in a book format. She hired a Denver designer to create the cover.

“I have been a writer and an editor for a long time, and I think that Barb is world-class,” said Black. “She is painstaking in her care of every aspect of the written word.”

“Barbara Scott worked as consulting editor on the Remarkable Women of Taos book,” said Liz Cunningham. “When she edited my foreword, she not only caught punctuation and capitalization errors, she improved the text with suggestions that included a more fitting word or making an awkward sentence read more fluidly. I appreciate such an editor, one who makes my words sing.”

To find out more about Final Eyes, visit Scott’s website,, or call her at 575-758-4846.

Bonnie Lee Black reading at the Moby Dickens Bookshop about her book “How to make an African Quilt – The Story of the Patchwork Project of Segou, Mali”