How is proofreading done?

Proofreading and editing is a process that involves the marking of language errors and correcting those errors in copy. But what exactly happens in this seemingly non-complex process.

Before explaining the actual process, let's point out first how the ideal proofreader or editor - who does the actual proofreading of the text - should be.
The ideal English copy-editor or proofreader should be someone who is very versed in the English language, its usage, its rules and its nuances. He or she should be able to identify the subtle differences between words and expressions and the shades of meaning. 

The ideal proofreader should also be someone has a full and complete grasp of the subtle differences in relation to the context where the text is used. This is because a word that might be acceptable in news reporting or TV content might not be suitable for usage in a formal academic context. The ideal proofreader or editor should even be very knowledgeable about cultures because a text translated from a foreign language into English (let's say from Persian, Arabic, Amharic etc) might include references and meanings that would need to be protected from any distortion when the text is proofread and edited. In the meantime, the proofreader should be able to correct the English copy to ensure it has a clear meaning and is intelligible for its intended English-speaking audience. Above all, the ideal proofreader should have an eye for detail.


Now, let's look at how proofreading or editing is done.

1) The copy-editor or proofreader first skims through the text to see what the topic is about, basically to familiarise himself or herself with what is lying ahead in terms of content and also the standard of English used.

2) The proofreader then starts to read the text word by word and sentence by sentence to spot, mark and correct any errors he finds. But this process can be done in two different ways, depending on the personal preferences of the editor or proofreader. Some copy-editors prefer to print out the text that needs to be edited or proofread and go through it carefully using a marker pen to mark the mistakes and errors in the copy and write corrections and suggestions. They then go to their computers and introduce those corrections to the soft copy. However, other editors and proofreaders - and those are the overwhelming majority nowadays - prefer to do the proofreading and editing directly in the copy on their computers without any printing out. They do not simply work on a hard copy like the other copy-editors.

3) Once the editor or proofreader has finished the first correction of the draft or text, they then put the proofread version aside for a little while and engage in any other activity during this time. This is a very important procedure because it allows the eye to refresh and rest. 

4) The editor or proofreader then conducts what is called a second reading of the text, which has already been proofread and copy-edited, for a final, close look to ensure that no mistakes or errors had slipped their net and was still in the text.

Note: While doing the actual proofread or edit, the proofreader or editor turns on the track-changes function in Microsoft word in order to provide a track-changed edited copy so that the author of the text can see what the editor or proofreader has changed, corrected and amended.

5) Once the second reading has been performed, the proofreader or editor saves their work to ensure all the changes were implemented. Two copies - a clean proofread and copy-edited version and a track-changed version - are then submitted to the author.

The Ultimate Proofreader is a leading UK-based academic proofreading services provider & dissertation editing services UK.