Contents Back Appendix 1: Editing Levels


Use a red pencil to mark changes in format, egregious editorial mistakes (spelling errors, decidedly incorrect usage), and changes from the copyedited manuscript. If you wish to change (or edit) the language, query the change on a Post-It note rather than marking it in red. Please review the red folder's contents, if one is sent with the job, for the history of the project and to find the sample pages and style sheet. Also note whether you should proof the art and what round of art is in the pages. This information should be included on the proofreading transmittal form that the DE, ME, or AE has filled out. Use the checklist that is included to guide you in your work. You'll find the house policy for word and hyphen "stacks" on it. GAs will not have checked yet for balanced pages and bad breaks at the first-pages stage; please note them anyhow. Note: Don't worry about balanced pages, but do check for bad breaks.

How Much Authority Does a Proofreader Have?

Proofreaders must do one of three things to every error or problem they find: ignore it, mark it, or query it. We at HK give you the proofer a fair amount of latitude in the changes and queries that you make. In other words, unless the DE, ME, or AE specifically asks you to treat a project differently, we ask that you mark or query all glaring and most moderate errors you come across. You are always required to mark the following:

In most cases, we also ask that you mark glaring errors in language--the kind that would be noticed by anyone with a high school education who was good in English and that would embarrass the author or confuse the reader.


Please also tactfully query moderate errors in language--those instantly conspicuous to the trained eye--and possible errors in fact. But when it comes to querying, it's important to restrain your editing instincts. Don't get into the habit of rewriting the author's work. (Rewriting is defined as crossing out or querying a whole sentence and writing a whole new one.) Generally speaking, if a sentence is clear enough for you to know how to rewrite it, leave it alone. But if it is very confusing or unintelligible, please query it. Also be cautious of querying unless you can back up the query with a rule from CMS, this style guide, or another style that has been used for the project. Remember that the skill of a proofreader is measured as much by what they judiciously ignore as by what they mark.

Proofing With Little Attention to Dead Copy

More and more publishers are adopting the practice of noncomparison proofreading. In most cases, HK does this as well. We supply both dead and live copy, but in most cases only the live copy is read word for word. The dead copy is only checked against the live copy paragraph for paragraph to make sure that no copy is dropped. It is also available when you find something puzzling or need to check figures or the spelling of people's names, for instance.

Reviewing Changes

After you have made the requisite number of passes through the pages, review your work. This should only take about one-tenth as long as the full proofreading took.

Summary of Errors and Problems to Mark, Query, or Ignore

The following list summarizes many of the problems that our proofreaders need to look for. If you can catch everything on this list and decide correctly whether to mark, query, or ignore it, you'll be successful at proofing HK books.

Here are some examples of what to mark, query, or ignore. Please note that these are only suggestions.

Tricks of the Trade for Proofreaders

Here are a few suggestions to help you successfully get through any proofing job without going blind or insane.

Follow Proven Procedures

Take Extra Precautions

Use Several Tools

Keep Notes

Contents Back Appendix 1: Editing Levels