Verification editing / proofreading
Verification editing (proofreading) is the last quality-control check of a document, and it is not a substitute for copy editing. Copy editing, like substantive or Structural editing, is the improvement of a work whereas proofreading is the final reading and correction of mistakes after it has been structurally edited, copy edited, designed and typeset.
Proofreading is often vital in preventing embarrassing and expensive mistakes. It involves having a fresh set of eyes to objectively check your work as eyes that have been immersed in a work see what they want to see and not what is actually there. This is a trick of the human mind affecting all writers.
A final quality control exercise to verify that the document is complete in terms of:
- preliminary matter (title and imprint page, table of contents, foreword, preface, illustration lists, tables, acknowledgements)
- end matter (glossary, lists of abbreviations, references, bibliography, index, appendixes)
- body of document (text, illustrative material, footnotes and endnotes, tables, captions)
- links and metadata
- typographical, grammatical and punctuation errors
- document conformity with editing style sheets and manuals
A standard proofread is not performed to improve the content or structure of the document but to check that all conventions, guidelines and rules have been complied with. It also spot-checks any remaining errors that the copy editor or typesetter have missed.
This compares a corrected or edited document copy (live copy) with the original copy that has been marked up with corrections (dead copy). It is a word-by-word, line-by-line check of one copy with another to ensure that all corrections have been included and that everything is in the correct position.
Comparative proofreading does not look for new errors or corrections. It simply checks that the corrections already made have been incorporated into the live version of the copy. If an existing correction on the dead copy has not been made to the live copy then this will be marked up on the document.
Proofreading work, whether standard or comparative, involves several passes over a proof as each element of the document requiring this level of quality control is best checked separately.
Again, proofreading can be done either as a hard-copy proofread or a soft-copy proofread. I have two screens side-by-side that enable soft-copy comparative proofreads. However, as proofreading is such a detailed quality-control exercise far greater accuracy is achieved by performing this on hard-copy. Hard-copy proofreading involves far less eye-strain and brain fatigue, both of which occur when staring at computer screens for too long.