The Proofreader or Proof Reader is a Sick Puppy
They say that every proofreader or proof reader suffers from OCD. Do they? Jokes aside, being thorough is a fundamental condition for those who long to pursue this profession.
In addition to the high degree of attention to detail, liking reading should also be part of the package. But liking alone is not enough – you must love it. Unconditionally. After all, your days of proofreading texts could alternate between so many topics: vampires, zombies (that’s right, it happened to me. Dealing with the topic, I mean), chemical formulas, maps, cake recipes, sadomasochistic millionaires and there’s no way for you to escape!
The Proofreader or Proof Reader is a Suspicious Dog
It is also recommended that the proofreader or proof reader should have a chip on his/her shoulder: doubting everything and everyone. No data or spelling can be beaten. At the slightest sign of mistrust, one must leave all the supposed certainties behind and search as if there were no tomorrow.
“Seetle down” – Why and When to Seek
And this is leading to a delicate point in the process: how to know when (and to define a real need) to intervene in the text and the time to respect the choices of others?
* dramatic pause *
Proofreaders are a Strange Breed
Reviewers are definitely a breed on their own. Why is that? Because they need to take a critical look at a text and at the same time accept other people’s choices, even if they do not agree with them.
How do they do that? Common sense.
Is that easy? Um … more or less.
When reviewing, practice does not lead to perfection, but at least it teaches us to make some more conscious and mature decisions, such a bit of detachment. Yes, it is difficult for the proofreader or proof reader to understand/accept that he does not necessarily have to tinker with everything (show that is doing something and that the service is justified, while making sure it is not a dog and pony show). But also if you do not fiddle with anything you should be wary that there is something wrong (there will always be mistakes!). This middle ground is what embeds everything and sometimes ends up leaving authors/translators angry!
Let sleeping dogs lie (or in Doubt, Don’t Do Anything)
But let’s calm down, people! After a few years of experience, I basically learned that: whenever it is optional, leave it as it is; if you want to include some suggestion that you consider relevant, a pencil post (or comment) does not hurt anyone, but when there is ERROR … there you can use the red Stabilo with utter joy!
Proofreader or proof reader – a critical role (pun intended!)
Finally, we need to keep in mind that every professional has his role in the editorial process, which seems obvious, but in practice it is not quite so. The reviewer is the first reader of a text. A more critical reader, a kind of filter for the public. It is he who will choose words, adjust phrases, correct vices of language, finally, leave the fluid text in the native language of the common reader.
A careful review, that’s what’s needed.
In a (very) general way, the proofreader or proof reader’s job is to correct spelling and grammatical errors.
Oh, if only that… * deep sigh *
Now, reviewing includes much more than that: checking for cohesion and coherence, eliminating lingering traits of the foreign language, ambiguities, repetitions and vices of language, analysing the layout of the elements on the page (if there is no hole or overflow), checking the weights of the titles and pagination, beat the summary with the kernel, hit the font size, etc.
See, people? It is not just switching ‘There’ to ‘Their’, no!
“Watch me”: You’d think that’s all there is to it
And it is important to mention that the works cited above, most of the time, are divided into stages: preparation (copydesk), first review, second review, re-reading and quality control. Not all of them are contemplated in the process, either for lack of budget or term, which makes it impossible to divide the auditor’s role exactly in each one.
Every Dog Has his Day (any chance of a job for me?)
The field of activity of the proofreader or proof reader is extensive: publishers (books in general, magazines, newspapers, educational material), advertising agencies, universities, schools, translation agencies, publishing companies, graphics, etc.
Literary publishers (proofreader or proof reader’s dream: 9 out of 10 reviewers) usually do not have internal staff. Usually, the work is outsourced, through the contracting of freelancers. In publishing houses working with textbooks, it is very common to have a contracted team working internally.
Anyway, that’s it for now. Hope this gets this strange breed better understood.
Are there any other proofreaders out there that would like to add something? Please feel free to share your thoughts.