There are specific things to keep in mind when reading a proof that will help reduce pre-press expenses. Following are some of the key things to consider and look for when proofreading a draft. We’ve formatted this into a checklist that can be printed and used as a checklist.
- Take your time — you may or may not be on schedule with the job, but don’t let a deadline make you careless. 99% of the time the better choice is to miss a deadline and have a more accurate document.
- Decide in advance that a good proofreading of the document will take more than one review through it. As a minimum you’ll want two passes through the document – one to check content and one to check layout. If the document is complex in layout or content, three or four reviews may be appropriate.
- Make a list — better yet, make two lists – one for content and one for layout. Depending on how long each list is, you may decide that more than two reviews are needed. You can only check so many items on a page at one time before you begin to miss things.
- Check the writing for consistency in style and verb tense.
- Check technical data for correctness (was the source document correct?) and accuracy (does the desktop published data match the source document?).
- Check for commonly misspelled words, especially those that might be common to your industry, those that may be one word or two words, and hyphenated words. (At the very least be consistent in your usage of the words.) We’ve often seen these words used incorrectly: multipurpose, flowchart, adapter
- Check the content of figures – they are often overlooked.
- Check figure and table numbers if used. Check both the actual numbers for numerical sequence, and check their references within the document.
- Check for correct copyright and trademark usage
- Check text styles — are all styles for headlines, subheads, body copy, etc. consistently applied?
- Check for layout issues in the text — watch for things like:
- Misaligned tabbed information
- Extra spaces between words or sentences – there should only be one space after a period that marks the end of a sentence and typically there are no spaces when periods are used in acronyms (although typically periods are not used in acronyms)
- Use of quote marks (“ ”) instead of inch marks (“) – 1/2” is just wrong; it should be 1/2”
- Inappropriate line breaks
- Bad column or page breaks
- Check that right and left pages are correctly appearing as right and left pages if appropriate.
- Check line weights and styles for consistent usage.
- Check the use of colors if appropriate.