My thoughts on writing tips found online and in published works (with some random thoughts thrown into the mix).

Monday, January 23, 2012

Proofreaders' Marks

Tips from Publishing: Plain and Simple by Debra Hart May, with my own commentary:
  • "Proofread on paper rather than on screen."
    • Many proofreaders' marks are impossible to duplicate on the screen. When working with a paper version of the document, it is easier to insert the appropriate markings, write down suggestions, and ask questions. Also, as discussed in a previous blog about proofreading, it is easier to identify mistakes on a hard copy.
  • "Give yourself room to work; print your document in draft mode or otherwise increase the space between the lines."
    • This step is very important. Try marking up a document that is single-spaced, then try it again with a document that is double-spaced. The difference cannot be overstated. It is essential that the person editing the document (whether it is the author or an editor) has room to make the required corrections without having to squeeze them in. The point of proofreaders' marks is to help you improve the document; if you can't read the marks, all of that work was useless.
  • "Run the document through a computer spell-checker before you start proofreading; don't waste time finding easy spelling errors. If you don't have an electronic version of the document, have the writer or editor do this for you."
    • A spell-checker, though it will not find all errors in a document, will pick up a good portion of them. It also makes your document look more polished if you cut out any instances of "teh" for "the" and "sprak" for "spark." However, as for the last sentence, there is an issue with that. If you are submitting your work to be considered for publication, you must look through the document yourself. If your work is riddled with simple errors, it will look unprofessional and will lower your credibility. As a writer, it is your job to weed out as many errors as possible before sending it out to be read.
  • "Print with wider margins, if possible, in case you need room for an elaborate explanation or query."
    • As discussed with the previous tips in this post, you can not underestimate the importance of ample space to work. Some errors cannot be corrected with simple markings within the document. In order to allow your editor or proofreader (or yourself) to make your work the best it can be, you have to leave room for comments. If they don't understand a particular passage, they will want to write beside that paragraph. If an idea is confusing, they will want to explain why.
  • "Look back over your proofreaders' marks. Are they correct? Will they make sense to someone else?"
    • Though it seems redundant, it is important to proofreader your proofreaders' marks. If you accidently put the symbol for inserting a period instead of inserting a comma, it could really throw off your point and your credibility. This issue also helps bridge the gap between different groups. Though many proofreaders' marks could be considered universal, some can also differ from editor to editor. If a mark seems questionable, feel free to elaborate on what it means and why you think it needs changed.

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