If you think you might like to try proofreading, read Laura Killen Anderson’s Handbook for Proofreading. From how to stay focused to how to query an author, she talks about the important things to know about proofreading in a straightforward, friendly way.
A proofreader checks that a finished piece says what it was intended to say. That is, if a word is is repeated (Did you catch that?) it was probably not intended, and a proofreader will correct it. However, a proofreader won’t comment if something is phrased awkwardly or a passage is wordy. Those things are up to the copy editor to point out. Briefly, a proofreader looks for typing or typesetting errors, formatting errors, etc., and for serious errors that may have been missed during copy-editing.
And since any editing process can miss or introduce errors, it’s important that the proofreader be the last one to work on the manuscript. Even more important, though, is that the proofreader be a new person. The writer and any copy editors will be too close to the work to be able to catch errors. The proofreader needs fresh eyes.
Substantive editing is not for everybody. Even copy-editing can be skipped, in certain circumstances. But every piece of writing that is to be published needs to be proofread.
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