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Aspects of proofreading sometimes neglected

by: Garry Pierrepont (24 December 2008)

In our many jobs as proofreaders we keep a very close eye on spelling and grammar, as they tend to lead the priorities of the job.

There are, however, two other key aspects of proofreading which are sometimes, well, if not overlooked, then certainly relegated down the priority list. If these points are overlooked there is a danger that the reader will miss the point of the text by concentrating on finding more errors!

Layout

The first is layout. This is crucial as, even if the reader does not possess in-depth spelling and grammatical skills, (s)he will be able to spot layout errors. These can include:

  • Incorrect horizontal or vertical spacing
  • Misaligned bullets in a list
  • Incorrect run-on at the end of layouts
  • Crowding
  • Overlaid text

There are many other layout issues, all of which may stand out to even the most casual reader.

Consistency

The second key aspect of proofreading sometimes neglected is consistency. Again, lack of consistency can be picked up by any reader, and can be very annoying and distract from the text itself. If you are proofreading, look out for consistency in:

  • Bullet icons
  • Indentation
  • Page numbering
  • Use of capital letters
  • Date formats
  • Use of full stops, commas, semi-colons (especially in lists)
  • Headers
  • Spacing

One problem with this, of course, is that, for example, one list may appear on page 5 and the next list may not appear until page 232, which you don’t proofread until four days later! Tough! That’s the job of the proofreader – it comes with the territory!

Both layout and consistency errors can offend the eye of the reader. As proofreaders, we need to pay the most rigorous attention to making sure we please the eye of the readers. In that way, the message of the text will not get lost in visual ‘noise’.

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