Proofreading – Print or Screen Copies

The old way of editing and proofreading on paper was much more work than today’s method of performing these tasks on screen. On-screen programs have made editing and proofreading a much faster and more efficient way to produce a document and finalize it for publication.

Let’s review the old method. One author wrote several pages of material. A word processor was hired to enter the text. A hard copy was printed on large sheets of paper with wide margins on each side for editors to make their corrections and comments. The font used for printing used to be Courier 12 to make it easier to spot errors. The document was printed double spaced so that editors and proofreaders had room to make corrections. A red pen was used for all editions. One had to know the standard revision marks when they made their corrections. The left side margin was used for proofreader’s marks and the right side for editorial comments. Most publications would go through two or three passes depending on how much work was needed to improve the quality of the document. In addition to the text edits, graphics had to be incorporated into the document. That phase usually occurred after the final print. Cut and paste was the standard way of placing graphics in the document before going to the editor.

There was a lot of back and forth with paper documents that cost a lot of money in paper, ink, salaries, and time to get the product out for sale. Well, things have changed quite a bit. Now we can do all of these things using programs that keep track of our edits. A popular program is Microsoft Word’s Track Changes.

Most authors have moved on to writing their documents in a word processing program, but they usually don’t want to get involved with document cleanup. They are thinking about what they are going to write next. Authors submit their work in a draft format to be finalized for publication. Editors and reviewers can now use Track Changes to make comments and corrections. All changes are shown in red and noted in the right column using the balloon function. The balloon feature in Track Changes allows editors and proofreaders to post comments for the reviewer directly on the document. In fact, all the changes made to the document can be displayed with the balloon function; such as revisions, additions, deletions, and formatting changes. Additional editing and proofing tools that are available include spelling and grammar checkers, research tools, and a thesaurus. After editing and review are complete, reviewers can review each change and accept or reject it. They can also accept or reject all changes at once. Incorporating graphics has also become much easier with the ability to insert graphics into the on-screen document.

An original of the document is always available. Multiple editors and proofreaders can work on one copy of the document at the same time. Each person’s entry is differentiated by using different colors. There is an option to merge all changes into a single document for a final step. Once all corrections and comments have been addressed, the document can be saved as a final version. It can be printed with and without marks.

Another great feature being used today is the ability to perform word counts. Many publishers and proofreaders charge their clients a rate based on the number of words, so this feature has become very useful.

Proofreaders on hard copy days were hired primarily to verify that all edits were incorporated into the document. They did this every time a document went through a review. With the ability to make corrections on screen, the responsibility of the correctors has become a bit confusing. Now they’re basically doing light copy editing instead of proofreading.

The entire editing process has come a long way since it was done in hard copy, but it is still recommended that any final version of a document be printed in its entirety for final reading. Sometimes it’s easier to spot obvious errors by looking at a printout than at a screen version.

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