An introduction to proofreading

Ikea-sign-with-several-typos-300x228Would you go on a first date without checking yourself from every angle before leaving the house? No, you wouldn’t – and text needs the same treatment.

Imagine you’ve got yourself a date, by whatever means this happens in the twenty-first century. You want to make a good impression, so every detail must be right: new outfit, sharp haircut, shiny shoes. You’ve even flossed. Twice. You call your flatmate to give you a quick once-over. The last thing you want to be told is to take everything off, right down to your lucky pants, and start again. No, you trust they’ll suggest a tweak to a detail here or there: spot that you’ve put on odd socks in your excitement, or that you’ve got lipstick on your teeth.

When proofreading for a client, I imagine I’m the helpful flatmate summoned at the last minute, pre-date, to avert potential disasters. I assess the raw materials I have to work with, and the limitations (my friend is no oil painting and her bus leaves in seven minutes), and I do all I can to send things out in the best possible state. It’s not about stripping everything down and starting again, or imposing my own ideas. It’s about making careful adjustments for a result that is fit to be seen …

This is an extract from a post originally published by the Professional Copywriters’ Network. Read the complete post here.

Photo on 02-09-2015 at 13.12Liz Jones has worked as an editor in the publishing industry since 1998, and has been freelance since 2008. Despite the analogy, she was never a very good flatmate because she has hermit-like tendencies.


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