Proofreading is the final stage of the editorial process before an item of marketing collateral is published or sent to print, or a website is launched. Proofing involves one last quality control check for inconsistencies and spelling and punctuation mistakes. It should always be done after a graphic designer has completed the design, once the copy has been placed into the artwork. At this point, if the previous copywriting and copyediting stages have been done correctly, there shouldn’t be any major structural amendments or rewriting needed. In an ideal world, a proofreader should only be checking for errors.
A proofread is a quality assurance process confirming that the content is correct and complete, and meets the client’s high standards for publishing, printing or going live. Sometimes proofreading compares the designed content against an error-free master copy which is the most up-to-date version of the approved text. If there is no master copy to work from, the process is called ‘blind proofreading’. This requires a very experienced proofreader because there’s no authorised version to compare against.
As true proofreading occurs when the copy is in-situ in the design, it’s a final check on both textual and visual elements. Often a final proofread will involve marking up any errors or visual inconsistencies on a printer’s proof from the printing company and approving the document so the printer can start running the printing press.
Proofreaders shouldn’t be highlighting changes to content at this stage unless there are glaring typos or mistakes not picked up in the previous copywriting or editing stages of the editorial process. A proofread ensures nothing has been missed and no mistakes have slipped through across any of these earlier steps.
How we can help you with proofreading
At Catch the Sun Communications, our team of professional freelance proofreaders can be your team’s extra pair of eyes, giving you peace of mind and confidence to send your marketing materials live or to print.
Common issues our proofreaders may find include:
- typos, spelling mistakes, inconsistencies and content errors
- content that varies from the master copy
- content that varies from a client’s writing style guide, brand guidelines, tone of voice guide or style sheet
- incorrect or missing elements, such as page numbers, hyperlinks and headings
- inconsistent or incorrect design elements, like font sizes, typefaces, colours, paragraph spacing, column widths, headings, subheadings, infographics, tables or image resolution.
If your company has an existing writing style guide, brand guideline document, style sheet or tone of voice guide, we’ll adhere to this as we proofread. Our proofreaders also have a thorough working knowledge of the latest (seventh) digital edition of the Style Manual, useful for our Australian Government clients.
Proofreading projects our proofreaders have worked on include prospectuses, websites, brochures, reports, magazine articles, case studies, direct mail, advertisements, newsletters, blog posts, social media posts, eDM campaigns and more.
As well as proofreading single documents, you can also outsource your marketing team or agency’s approvals process to Catch the Sun Communications. We can act as an extension of your team by taking the hassle of your signoff process off your hands, adding a layer of quality control undertaken by qualified and experienced professional proofreaders and giving you extra peace of mind that your marketing materials will be error free.
What our proofreading process looks like
Proofreading is mostly done on a PDF of the fully designed marketing asset, using Adobe Acrobat ‘Annotations’ tools to mark up the document. We also regularly proofread typed Microsoft Word documents using ‘Track Changes’ and Word ‘Comments’. We’ll even mark up your work the old-fashioned way – with proofreading comments written on a hard copy – if requested.
Some of our clients hire us to review a document once only – either as copy editing in Word or proofreading on a PDF. Others ask us to do both copy editing and proofreading – especially for very large documents like annual reports and prospectuses. At Catch the Sun, we always recommend undertaking both copy editing and proofreading on a document, as accidental errors can sometimes occur when text is transferred from Word into a graphic design program like Adobe InDesign.
Regardless of the format, our team will ensure your work is correct, consistent, professional and well presented. The text will be checked letter by letter and word by word for typos, and to make sure there are no errors in punctuation, grammar or context, or design or layout consistency. We can even fact check content for accuracy, if required. Any errors and inconsistencies will be marked up in a clear and simple manner, making sure the intended meaning of our comments and directions is always easy to understand. The material will be provided back as a PDF or Microsoft Word email attachment, or as a hard copy if you prefer this method and time allows.