As you probably know, many of us write something from time to time. Even more of us read other written materials, like news, articles, books, blogs, different kinds of messages, and so on, almost daily. And we all read those lines, word by word. Thus, being completely unaware of the style these things were written in, let alone the spelling. We imagine pictures in our minds due to the sentences we have read, without thinking about the technical part of the story. But how often do you actually think about if these exact lines and words were written correctly? Well, this is the part where proofreading jumps right in!
It doesn’t really matter if you are the one writing something, or the one reading it, to find yourself puzzled about, “So, what exactly is proofreading?”. The answer is simple – proofreading is the process of reviewing the final draft of any written document you might come across. Checking it for the possible errors in grammar, typography, spelling, punctuation and formatting, and removing them is what comes next. All of this has one major goal — making the document seem and sound nice and clean for the reader’s eye and brain.
Demystification – editing vs. proofreading?
While most people take proofreading and editing for the same thing, they are completely ignorant of the type of the mix-up they make by doing so. To put things simpler and easier for you to understand, here is a short explanation of what each of these professions actually do.
Now, this is where it all starts when checking a text. These guys are mainly responsible for:
- Organizing the text properly so that it has a meaningful flow that readers can follow with an ease;
- Thinking of chapters, headlines, and titles to make them more appealing to the readers;
- Checking if the chapter and page numbers are used correctly;
- Verifying facts, dates, and statistics by using relevant reference sources;
- Allocating the print space for images, photos, or illustrations, to give the text a more personal tone;
- Preparing, rewriting, rewording the text to boost readability, or supervising others’ work of this kind;
- Checking for plagiarism.
So, as we can see, an editor’s job is of a lot more scope than a proofreader’s. In the following lines, we will try to put it simply about who the rest of the story goes to.
After a text has been preliminary (and, supposedly, accurately!) checked by editors, this is the place for proofreaders to show their faces. And what they do is:
- Reading the text after it has been previously checked by an editor to make sure there are no mistakes left in the text – if yes, then this is the right time to jump in!
- Marking the errors, usually in form of comments in a Microsoft Word documents or PDF files, or suggestions in Google Docs documents;
- Checking for the double words (the the) and missing words;
- Correcting any other type of grammatical, typographical, spelling, or punctuation errors;
- Accurate formatting;
- Returning the document to the client.
Now, let’s get one thing straight here. It is very easy to slip while writing and not that easy to come back to later once you have continued with your work. But all of the responsible and attentive writers will do it eventually. Like Oscar Wilde once wrote,
“I was working on the proof of one of my poems all the morning, and took out a comma. In the afternoon I put it back again.”
But then again, this is what it looks like in theory. Now, let’s see what can happen in practice and real life. If you take a close look at the picture below, I am pretty sure you’ll find it easy to spot the things I am trying to point out here and bring it closer to you guys:
You see? It is not that hard to spot and remember these variations. With a clear picture, it all becomes very logical and easy to understand. You just need a good teacher, or, better yet, an excellent proofreader!
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