Proofreading is the final checking of a piece of text before it is published. It involves looking carefully for the following:
- errors of spelling, punctuation, and grammar
- consistency of style – e.g. headings, use of capitals, hyphenation, abbreviations
- consistency of layout
- correct labelling and positioning of captions, tables, diagrams, etc.
- correct page numbering.
Proofreading does not, however, involve:
- improving the flow of the text by rewriting or paraphrasing content, or altering or advising on the structure or content – if your work requires such attention, you may require the services of a copy-editor
- laying out the text – this is the work of a designer
- fact-checking – although any noticeable or major errors will be pointed out, proofreading does not involve checking the factual accuracy of any information contained within the text
- indexing – compiling an index is specialist work; should your material require an index, please consult the Society of Indexers.
In some cases, a document may not require a full copy-edit, but simply needs a few light alterations to structure and content. This falls into the realm of ‘proof-editing’. If you think this is the service you require, please contact me to discuss this further.
Even after employing the services of a copy-editor or designer, having a fresh set of eyes to read through your work is invaluable. A proofreader can detect errors that may have been missed by others due to their familiarity with the text.
Should you require any more information about what to expect from proofreading, and how to gain the maximum benefit from the various editorial services available, the Society for Editors and Proofreaders has some useful FAQs here.