Proofreaders need to be pedants with an unwavering eye for detail. The discipline differs from copy-editing.
Because errors can happen during the design process, remember your final proofread should take place after:
- the print document has already been laid out, complete with images and captions, or
- the web content has been uploaded to the web.
When proofreading, check that:
- you have incorporated all edits from previous versions into the final version
- all content conforms with this style guide
- the images match text and captions
- elements such as page numbers, tabs and headings are correct
- line breaks, white space and tables have all been positioned appropriately.
If checking web content, also check that:
- the page conforms with web accessibility guidelines
- all hyperlinks are labelled correctly and work.
Other useful tips:
- Its fine to start on screen, but your final proof should be on a hard copy.
- Proofing is best done in (at least) two stages: one proof for sense and style, and one for spelling, grammar and punctuation.
- When proofing for sense and style, put yourself in the user's shoes.
- Check the style aligns with Monash branding.
- Be methodical. Take one line at a time. Use a ruler to guide your eyes.
- Read one word at a time. Most people read about four words at a time, so you need to make a conscious effort to stare at each word in turn. This isn't as slow as it sounds; its just a different reading technique. Some proofreaders read the copy backwards.
- Note any queries that need to go back to the content owner or the writer. Ask them.
- If you don't know a word, or you are unsure it is spelled or used correctly, look it up.
- Proofread in a quiet environment. Don't listen to music. Schedule frequent short breaks, and enforce a break if your concentration starts wavering.
- Read the content aloud. (Under your breath, preferably.) This helps you to spot faulty sentence construction and bad grammar.
Do not proofread your own work if you can help it. If you must, schedule another task between writing/editing and proofing.