What are the benefits of proofreading?
The benefits of proofreading are many and the following are just a few examples. I will:
- provide you with objectivity and a fresh pair of eyes, as the author of a business document or publication will often read what they expect to see, I will read what is really there
- provide you with peace of mind and reassurance that your document is the best that you can make it and will be understood by the reader
- help protect your business or brand from damage caused by documents containing errors or confused wording
- add value to your business in ensuring you produce correct, concise, clear, and consistent written communications that reduce misunderstandings and queries
- save you money and time by picking up errors much earlier and avoiding costly reprints.
Don’t just take my word for it: the Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading has a useful page of FAQs on their website about using an editorial freelance and the benefits of proofreading or using a copyeditor.
What a proofreader does – the checks carried out
The proofreader is usually the last line of defence to check your document or publication for accuracy and consistency before publishing or circulation, and as part of the proofreading I will normally carry out the following standard checks for accuracy and quality.
The obvious checks
- read the text word by word for sense
- check on word usage and identify or amend words or phrases that your spellchecker would not spot, such as using ‘that’ instead of ‘than’, or ‘to’ instead of ‘too’
- ensure accurate and consistent styles of spelling, punctuation, capitalization, and hyphenation have been used
- check the consistency of spelling of authors’ and contributors’ names
- check page, chapter, and section numbers are consecutively numbered and ordered
- check page running headlines and footlines are correct
- ensure table, figure, and photo captions are correct and match text references to them
- check or insert page cross-references in the text
- check or insert page numbers listed in the table of contents and lists of tables, figures, and photos in the preliminary pages
- check footnotes or endnotes to the note cues or indicators in the text.
The less obvious checks
- watch for poor end-of-line word breaks that might cause confusion or offence, e.g. ther-apist (not the-rapist) and ana-lyst (not anal-yst)
- check works cited in the text to the references or bibliography section (but not the validity or accuracy of the references themselves) and ensure they are of a consistent style
- alert the publisher or author to ‘widows’ (short last line of a paragraph at the top of a page) and ‘orphans’ (short first line of a paragraph at the bottom of a page)
- watch for inconsistent design, style, and layout, or material that may have been missed out during production
- raise queries with the author – for instance, if something does not make sense, regarding missing references, or reference discrepancies
- collate authors’ answers to queries and late corrections.
If I am proofreading a Microsoft Word file I can also use the software PerfectIt by Intelligent Editing that helps to search for inconsistencies of style, such as variant spellings and hyphenation, inconsistent capitalization and punctuation, such as in bullet lists, or problems with grammar and readability.
Advantages of proofreading
The proofreading stage is an important part of the document or publication production process as this is the stage at which all the tidying up is done – almost the last piece of a jigsaw puzzle. It is particularly important where there has been incomplete or no copyediting. A proofreader can point out any errors, omissions, or inconsistencies and offer solutions.
The importance of proofreading
Why is proofreading important in business? Well, you only get one chance to impress a new client or subscriber and it is so easy to alienate an existing one with an inaccurate or confusing document. Besides the traditional books, journals, or reports, it is essential that commercial documents, press releases, social media posts, and blogs receive close checking.
The dangers of failing to proofread
Check for problems caused by lack of proper proofreading in my blog The dangers of failing to proofread.