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Proofreading the printer’s final ‘proof’

Once you have submitted your proofread manuscript to the printer, there is one proofreading task left to do.

The final ‘proof’

When your manuscript is in the printer’s system and ready for printing, most printers produce a hard copy – the final ‘proof’ – which they send to their client for approval, prior to the print run. The final ‘proof’ represents exactly what the book is going to look like.

This is your last opportunity to make any final corrections.

No matter how well it has been proofread prior to being submitted to the printer, due to human error and/or the process of converting the manuscript into its final form, the manuscript may contain errors.

Therefore, the hard copy ‘proof’ must be either proofread word for word to ensure there are no errors; or at the very least, compared with the previous draft, checking the top and bottom lines of each page and section to make sure both versions are identical.

In particular, you will be looking out for any ‘orphans or widows’ as lines or words, any gaps or spaces that shouldn’t be there, any images that aren’t aligned, or missing text. You’ll also need to spot any errors that had somehow escaped the attention of the proofreader, prior to the manuscript being sent to the printer.

We recommend a thorough proofread at this final ‘proof’ stage.

You should mark any corrections in handwriting on the hard copy ‘proof’.

When there are errors

If there are only a few errors, the publications coordinator should provide a list of the errors to the printer and the printer will correct them. If there is a large number of errors, the publications coordinator will need to negotiate with the printer on ways to resolve the problem.

If the errors are the fault of the printer, the printer usually bears the cost of correcting them. If the errors are the fault of the proofreader (that is, the errors were in the PDF manuscript submitted to the printer), the client or their proofreader usually bears the cost of correcting them.

When there are no errors

As long as the manuscript has been properly proofread prior to being sent to the printer, and it was submitted to the printer in the correct file format, the hard copy ‘proof’ should not contain any errors, although it is not uncommon to find an occasional punctuation or spelling error at this stage.

Once any errors have been corrected and the publications coordinator has confirmed there are no errors remaining, the final ‘proof’ is signed off and the print run commences.

Helpful links

For information about the whole proofreading process go to: Proofreading hardcopy publications.

For other articles about editors and editing, proofreaders and proofreading, go to:  Editing and proofreading

Proofread by Dee Sansom, On Time Typing

This article is based on Sally-Anne Watson Kane’s experience over the past 20-odd years, writing, editing, proofreading, producing publications and self-publishing.


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