Proofreading is that last – crucial – check before you publish or submit your writing. In most cases, text is already formatted before a proofread, so there is no expectation of substantial change or development of the text.
The proofreader has to trust that the earlier phases of editing have taken place, and that the writer has already made clear decisions on their meaning and intent, style and form. There is no expectation on a proofreader to reword phrasing, check for factual accuracy, or revisit their edits.
Proofreading can include the following:
- Correcting spelling, punctuation, and typos
- Ensuring consistent style and spelling (eg US or UK spelling)
- Ensuring consistent formatting
It shouldn’t take long, but proofreading is an essential stage in producing any text which the writer expects to be taken seriously, whether in a professional, academic, or publishing context. Even skilled and knowledgeable writers can miss their own errors and typos – no matter how many times they read their work through. Our reading brain knows what we’ve written, and reads what it expects to see, so a fresh pair of eyes is the best way to ensure a polished final document.