Reprinted from Strategies newsletter, 3rd Quarter © July 2002 by First Marketing, 3300 Gateway Drive, Pompano Beach, FL 33069.

First Marketing’s proofreaders: Our behind-the-scenes quality control specialists

An inside look at proofreading

At First Marketing, “proofread” means:

  • FIND misspelled words that spell-check doesn’t catch. Examples: You and your, than and then, they’re and their, site and sight, principle and principal.
  • READ every sentence for grammar and punctuation. Our proofreaders make dependent clauses independent, convert semicolons to full-fledged colons and, if necessary, rescue dangling modifiers.
  • VERIFY dates. The copy in a calendar, for example, might indicate an event happening on Wednesday, March 7, when March 7 is actually a Thursday. "This is one type of common error a proofreader looks for," says Proof Team Manager Susie Shaw, a 21-year First Marketing veteran.
  • INSPECT photos. A man in a photo might have his wedding ring on his right hand. This means the photo was accidentally flopped, and needs to be corrected.
  • CHECK for client idiosyncrasies. This includes the use of trademarks and registration marks with product names. Also, some clients print their phone numbers with two hyphens. Others use periods or parentheses. Another, who prefers a very formal writing tone, doesn’t want any contractions. “We ensure that individual client preferences are followed in regard to style,” Shaw says. “This is one more way we customize your publication.”
  • LOOK at typography. On the layout, for instance, a subhead or the disclaimer might be in the wrong font.
  • MAKE SURE of consistency. In the same article, a writer might mistakenly use “percent” in one sentence and the % symbol in another. Or “web site” in one place and “website” in another. E-mail and email. And so on.
  • LOOK for widows and orphans. A widow is a one-word line. An orphan is one line at the top of a column. “Widows and orphans can negatively affect the appearance of the piece,” says Shaw.
  • CONFIRM that standing elements are in place. Example: The proofreader compares the layout to the most recent printed sample and sees that the phone number is missing.
  • DOUBLE-CHECK all phone numbers, web site addresses and e-mail addresses. Phone numbers change all the time, so calling each one is part of the proofreading process. For e-mail addresses, a test e-mail is sent. For web sites, proofers go on the Internet and make sure the printed address takes them to the correct site.
Finally: You should know that proofreading is not a last-minute step. It is part of each stage of the creative process for all your pieces — electronic and print.
Sound thorough?
It should — because it is.

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