Alternative Methods of Proofreading

Proofreaders Copy holding or copy reading employs two readers per proof. The first reads the text aloud literally as it appears, usually at a comparatively fast but uniform rate of speed. The second reader follows along and marks any pertinent differences between what is read and what was typeset. This method is appropriate for large quantities of boilerplate text where it is assumed that the number of errors will be comparatively small.

Alternative methods

Experienced copy holders employ various codes and verbal short-cuts that accompany their reading. The spoken word digits, for example, means that the numbers about to be read aren't words spelled out; and in a hole can mean that the upcoming segment of text is within parenthesis. Bang means an exclamation point. A thump made with a finger on the table represents the initial cap, comma, period, or similar obvious attribute being read simultaneously. Thus the line of text: (He said the address was 1234 Central Blvd., and to hurry!) would be read aloud as: in a hole [thump] he said the address was digits 1 2 3 4 [thump] central [thump] buluhvuhd [thump] comma and to hurry bang. Mutual understanding is the only guiding principle, so codes evolve as opportunity permits. In the above example, two thumps after buluhvuhd might be acceptable to proofreaders familiar with the text.

Double reading. A single proofreader checks a proof in the traditional manner, but then passes it on to a second reader who repeats the process. Both initial the proof. Note that with both copy holding and double reading, responsibility for a given proof is necessarily shared by two individuals.

Scanning, used to check a proof without reading it word for word, has become common with computerization of typesetting and the popularization of word processing. Many publishers have their own proprietary typesetting systems, while their customers use commercial programs such as Word. Before the data in a Word file can be published, it must be converted into a format used by the publisher. The end product is usually called a conversion. If a customer has already proofread the contents of a file before submitting it to a publisher, there will be no reason for another proofreader to re-read it from copy (although this additional service may be requested and paid for). Instead, the publisher is held responsible only for formatting errors, such as typeface, page width, and alignment of columns in tables; and production errors such as text inadvertently deleted. To simplify matters further, a given conversion will usually be assigned a specific template. Given typesetters of sufficient skill, experienced proofreaders familiar with their typesetters' work can accurately scan their pages without reading the text for errors that neither they nor their typesetters are responsible for.

Before it is typeset, copy is often marked up by an editor or customer with various instructions as to typefaces, art, and layout. Often these individuals will consult a style guide of varying degrees of complexity and completeness. Such guides are usually produced in-house by the staff or supplied by the customer, and should be distinguished from professional references such as The Chicago Manual of Style, the AP Stylebook, The Elements of Style, or Gregg Reference Manual. When appropriate, proofreaders may mark errors in accordance with their house guide instead of the copy when the two conflict.

Checklists are commonly employed in proofrooms where there is sufficient uniformity of product to distill some or all of its components to a list format. They may also act as a training tool for new hires.

Proofreaders, Proofreading Methods, Proofreading Services