What is proofreading?

What is proofreading?
L. Giopp
L. Giopp
Tue 1 Feb, 2022


The most abused literary service is undoubtedly proofreading.

To understand why, let's start by defining it.

Proofreading is a professional intervention to eliminate typos, major spelling mistakes and standardise the editorial layout.

Therefore, a technical intervention does not touch the content of the work, but only its formal aspects.

A manuscript, even after the necessary editing phase, continues to present a series of critical points that you need to resolve before moving on to page layout: proofreading serves precisely to bring these two moments together, preparing the text so that the typesetter can work on it in the most profitable way.


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Why proofread?

When discussing self-publishing and some publishing realities, the proofreading phase is often perceived as optional or less important than other steps.

This happens essentially for a few reasons:

  • Proofreading is "invisible": apart from big misprints, the proofreader's interventions cannot be perceived "with the naked eye" (but they are there!);
  • Many people do not really know what proofreading is, and are convinced that it only serves to eliminate typing errors, which are only the tip of the iceberg.

To give you an idea of the many errors in a manuscript, let's try asking some questions!

When you have to leave a line of space between chapters, do you use the 'carriage return' button? Do you use the ' carriage return ' button when you finish a chapter and need to move on to the next page? When returning to the first line, do you use the Tab key or the space bar? Suppose the answer to one or more of these questions was "yes". In that case, your manuscript likely contains many of the criticalities mentioned above: which are invisible to the "layman's" eye but problematic when it comes to page layout.

In addition to typos and errors (which are always more than we think), the proofreader must resolve all these problems and clean up the text before passing it on to the typesetter.




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Five reasons why proofreading is essential!

Here are five reasons why proofreading is essential in transforming a manuscript into a book.

First.

Proofreading gives the text a professional, clean look. We can grant you that you don't need to be a book nerd to notice the difference between a polished editorial layout and a shaky one: and the reader will feel it!

Second.

Some standard editorial rules have to be respected, such as spelling certain words, capitalisation, and figures within the text. The professional proofreader knows these rules and can apply them on the fly.

Third.

Without proofreading, the page layout will be an obstacle race: technical time will increase, and there will be a risk of permanent errors. Even more, if you also want to convert the work into an e-book.

Fourth.

We all use foreign words that have become part of our language. But how many people know the exact spelling of décolleté or pendant? Are you sure it is spelt " entrepreneur"? The proofreader will have to check and, if necessary, correct it. (By the way, yes, it is spelt “entrepreneur”)

Fifth.

Last but not least: proofreading is an additional step in which a professional will put their skills at the service of your manuscript. It will help the manuscript to become a well-crafted book, not only in terms of content but also in terms of its editorial appearance.

Therefore, in self-publishing or any other publishing context, we suggest you never neglect to proofread.

Don’t think about it as an optional step, but a fundamental one: you can see the difference!

Conclusions

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