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By Samantha Yee
Proofreading (often misspelled proof reading or proof-reading) is the final check for errors performed on printed text prior to publication. Proofreading provides an author with a final quality check to ensure that writing errors are not overlooked. This can save costly editing and reprinting expenses and ensure that you maintain your professional image.
Proofreaders need a meticulous eye for detail, and will typically review a document to identify mistakes such as:
- typographical errors
- spelling mistakes, that can include mistakes that have not been identified by a spell checker
- basic grammar mistakes, including the use of appropriate words, and checking for complete sentences
- punctuation errors, including commas, full stops (periods) and sentence capitalization
Typically, a proofreader makes corrections and suggestions in the margins of the document using industry-standard proofreading symbols (marks). However, in order to understand these changes, knowledge of these symbols and meanings are required. These symbols tend to be used in the publishing industry as editors and typesetters are familiar with these marks. However, proofreading of a hard copy can be done if a proofreader provides clear instructions to the client as to how they have made corrections or suggestions to the work. Nowadays, soft-copy editing can also be done using a word processing tool such as Microsoft Word’s ‘Track Changes’ feature. This offers the benefits of electronic document portability.
As proofreading is a final quality check on the typed document, a proofreader does not typically review the context or meaning of the written words. The author normally performs this task during the various writing and editing stages prior to proofreading. However, a proofreader’s actual scope of work can vary from organisation to organisation, depending on preferences and history.
Proofreading can be of value when performed on any document, for example:
- business documents such as annual reports, presentations, business cases, promotional and marketing materials, websites and web pages, products or services brochures
- technical documents such as tenders, user manuals, policies and procedures, engineering, scientific and information technology reports and specifications
- academic documents such as teaching materials, undergraduate and post-graduate theses, assignments and essays
Conducting this last ‘polish’ of your words before publication can help you win and maintain business, and most importantly help you maintain your reputation and industry credibility.
Tech Edit is an Australian based company offering document editing and proofreading across a variety of areas including technical documents, business documents, academic documents and personal documents.