Tuesday, December 12

Proofreading & Copy-Editing – What Are They?

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Isn’t it annoying to see an apostrophe in the wrong place or even missing from a sentence completely?  For anyone who appreciates grammar, punctuation and correct spelling, it can make their toes curl if they read, “Cabbage’s £1 each” or “No dog’s allowed”.

It’s amazing to think that one little punctuation mark such as a comma can command such great importance. The placement of a comma can totally change the whole meaning of a sentence, so to avoid confusion, ridicule or hilarity, it’s best to learn the correct positions for them.

Imagine a business sending out invitations to their grand opening. It wouldn’t look very professional if their opening offer actually had two meanings because it wasn’t worded properly. It could cause problems if customers weren’t sure and had to query it. It wouldn’t give a good impression.

Think of the waste of money if business stationary or signage was printed with spelling mistakes or ambiguous meanings. It has happened many times before and resulted in red faces and loss of money.

A proofreader is paid to notice these errors as well as many more. Proofreading is not just a matter of reading through text once. It must be read through two or three times at a snail’s pace so that all those tiny problems can be picked up and eradicated before the work goes public.

To be a proofreader you’ll need certain elements to your personality. You need patience, concentration and pride in your work. Perseverance, diligence and attention to detail come high up the list too. You must be able to work on your own in a quiet room with no distractions. TV or radio is not allowed because you have to give each piece of work your undivided attention.

You might be asked to proofread against copy which means you check the set of proofs typed by the typesetter against the earlier text which had instructions from the copy-editor. You’re looking for any errors made by the typesetter or copy-editor. You’re basically providing a fresh set of eyes to make sure all is well.

Always follow the publisher’s style guide or house rule. You should pay attention to the way they prefer things to be done and do as they wish.

Of course, some work is required by writers who have put together an ebook or articles, and require proofreading to be undertaken online. This is easily done by using Track Changes in Word. The amendments show in red and the client can choose to accept or decline amendments. It’s possible to view the document in its original, amended or final format.

A proofreader should check for certain things throughout the entire assignment. These include:

  • Inconsistencies of spelling – if in doubt check how a certain word should be spelt if there are two ways.

  • Size and type of font. Sometimes several have been used and it’s vital to find out which is the preferred one.

  • Inconsistent presentation such as some title headings being in capitals, but a couple being in sentence case and in italics. Find out which is correct.

  • Images with captions that do not correspond or images that look out of place.

  • Headers and footers should be checked for consistency and relevance.

  • Contents and index pages should be numbered accurately and pertain to what they say they do.

  • Page numbers should run consecutively.

  • Sentence structure, choice of words and spelling of words. 

  • Correct capitalization of proper nouns

  • The flow of words. A piece of work should read well.

  • Inconsistencies such as Mr Jones suddenly becoming Mrs Jones or New York turning into New England later in the text.

It’s vital to be alert because if you’re not, it’s easy to overlook something like that and it could be disastrous for the author and confusing for the reader.

It’s a good idea to use a ruler underneath the line of text you are reading as it helps to separate the area of text and makes it easier to read. If checking text against copy, you could use two rulers, one being set against the original text.

You could also use a checklist of all the things you are looking out for and when you are happy you’ve not missed anything in one category, you can check it off. Keeping a copy of this will help you to refer back in case there are any problems. Proofreading is a very detailed profession.

Never submit important work for printing unless it’s been proofread. It really is important. Any work that goes public should look professional. Take a look at:www.theproofreadingservice.com

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