What Makes a Good Proofreader?

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Few of us realize, when we pick up a textbook or novel, the extreme measures taken by the publishers to make certain the thing is perfect. First, the author goes through and revises, it is hoped, until the cows come home. Then, the manuscript goes to the copyeditor who searches for every possible error, adding comments and questions to further clarify the finer points. The edited text is then returned to the project manager, who passes along the suggested changes and author queries to the author, who is usually expected to reject or respond to what changes have been made. After that, the refined finished product is put into galleys and turned over to the proofreader (yours truly), who must then catch every little thing that either the editor missed or that could only be discovered upon perusal of a finished galley.

A good proofreader must have a keen eye. If a space was left in at the beginning of a sentence, or omitted before ellipses in one sentence but not in another, the proofreader will catch it. If a name is spelled one way on page 7, and a different way on page 287, a good proofreader will notice. In fact, if the editor missed anything (and word has it they are human after all), the proofreader is the publisher’s last hope to keep the error out of the finished product.

In short, a good proofreader is the key to perfection. Ideally, a strange balance of artist and grammar snob makes the best proofreader. To find out more about me or my skills, please check out my résumé and take a look at the before-and-after samples of my work. If you still have questions, feel free to contact me.