What is Proofreading?

Many people want to know, 'What is proofreading?'

The answer is - proofreading is the close and careful reading of a document to find mistakes and correct them.

In the age of digital and desktop publishing a prooferader is someone who improves the language used in a document by correcting and/or improving the:

  • Spelling
  • Grammar
  • Punctuation
  • Formatting
  • Clarity
  • Word choice
  • Organization
What is proofreading is a question many people want to find the answer to.

An online proofreader now does much of the work that an editor or copyeditor would’ve done in the past. In fact the distinction between a proofreader and a copyeditor has been lost with desktop publishing. When many people search for a proofreader they want a proofreader and copyeditor, which is exactly the kind of service that many online proofreaders now offer. But, the term 'proofreading' comes from when books and documents were printed using a printing press rather than current digital printing methods.

The original document would be written, edited and finalized by the author and editor (possibly among others). When the document was ready for printing, the print would need to be set. That’s where someone takes all the letters or words and puts them in the correct places, in the press, to make the words on the pages (I’ve simplified this process as it’s something that I’m not an expert on).

A proof of the document would be printed from the press and a proofreader would check the printed document against the original. The print setting process could often incorporate mistakes into the document.

The prooferader would check the spelling and formatting of the printed proof against the original. Any mistakes would be marked with proofreaders’ marks and the type set would be corrected to remove the mistakes before printing.

So a proofreader was someone who just checked for mistakes and had no editorial authority.

Any editorial decisions would’ve been made before the document was print set. These would’ve been made by an editor or a copyeditor who would’ve corrected the text and document to make sure it was:

  • Clear
  • Correct
  • Concise
  • Complete
  • Consistent

But with modern desktop publishing, the roles of proofreader and copyeditor have become combined in many situations. Most people need or want the services of a combined copyeditor and proofreader.

If you’d like help with proofreading your documents you can contact me or see the page about my service, which includes proofreading and copyediting all combined.

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By Jolyon Dodgson, copyright © 2011-2020. 

Excellent-Proofreading-and-Writing.com - Proofreading and writing help for excellent first impressions.