What is proofreading?
In a publishing context, after any text has been copy-edited, and then been through design and typesetting stages, a proof is produced. It is the final paper or on-screen version that is ready (or almost ready) for publication.
Proofreading refers to the final quality check of written material (the proof) before it is published. It can be very off-putting for a reader of any text if they encounter mistakes or inconsistencies, whether consciously or not. Therefore, to try to ensure that text is not confusing in any way, the proofreader's job is to eliminate as many of these errors as possible. Using good judgement, skill and experience the following will be checked:
A proofreader will:
A proofreader will NOT copy-edit, rewrite or restructure written material in any way.
The majority of the above describes proofreading in a publishing context but the main principles are applied when working with self-publishers, students or businesses.
Proof-editing (or light editing)
Sometimes it can be difficult for an organisation or an individual to know whether a proofreader or an editor is required, especially if they have no editorial knowledge. 'Proof-editing' is somewhere between proofreading and editing. The proofreader will intervene a little more than if just simply proofreading and make suggestions and some editorial decisions if needed. However, this will not go as far as copy-editing where deeper editorial intervention is carried out.