The traditional role of a proofreader within book production is to check typesetters’ ‘proofs’ against the edited manuscript that was used to create them. Before the text reaches the proofreader it will have been copy-edited, typeset and then printed, and the proofreader must compare each line of the copy-edited document with the typeset document to make sure that the typesetter has followed all of the copy-editor’s marks.
Nowadays, the role has diversified. Proofreaders are often called upon to work on non-traditional texts – anything from website copy, to brochures, business letters and academic theses. These documents are usually proofread ‘blind’, as stand-alone documents.
Here is a list of the specific tasks involved in the proofreader’s role:
- Correcting errors – in spelling, grammar, punctuation and style
- Checking for consistency: If a particular word has one or more alternative spellings, is the same spelling used throughout? Are hyphens applied consistently? Do the chapter headings tie up with the table of contents?
A proofreader’s job does not involve editing, rewriting, or restructuring the text. They are not responsible either for making any changes to improve the language style.