Working With a Proofreader to Finalize a Book

What Self-Publishers Can Expect During the Proofreading Process

A proofreader’s job is to review the final designed copy of a bookafter the writing, editing, and layout (graphic design) stages have been completedto ensure it is ready for print.

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Where a copy editor’s job is to review and improve an author’s raw manuscript, and the graphic designer’s job is to arrange that raw edited text into a professional and appealing layout, a professional proofreader provides yet another set of eyes to ensure all the components fit together properly.

Proofreading is a Crucial Ingredient of the Professional Book Publishing Process

Each book is a bit different, and there may be additional components added in before the proofreader finally sees it. For example, non-fiction readers expect to see an index at the back of a book; so an experienced indexer should be hired to add that section in after the design stage of the process has been completed. The professional proofreader is introduced at the very end. This individual reviews the professionally laid-out version of the book.

A Professional Proofreader Will Complete the Following Nine-Point Check


• the front matter (such as the table of contents) is accurate and correct
• the back matter (such as the index) is accurate and correct
• headers and footers are accurate and correct
• bad breaks are eliminated
• text is kerned to flow smoothly throughout
• margins and trim size all measure properly
• spelling and punctuation is correct


• spacing, bleeds, and trim size all measure properly
• spelling and punctuation is correct

As shown in the above list, a professional proofreader is someone who is knowledgeable and experienced with both basic language editing (spelling and punctuation) as well as the technical aspects of book design (kerning, bleeds, trim size, et cetera). If the proofreader finds any issues in the layout, he or she will indicate these and send them back to the designer to make the corrections. Once the corrections are complete, this draft is sent back to the self-publishing author for final proof approval before the book goes to print.

The Final Word

As self-publishers are paying all their own production costs in order to retain 100% copyright ownership of their books, they ultimately have the final word on everything from editing to design to production … as they should! That said, with this level of creative control comes a higher level of responsibility. It is the self-publishers’ duty to review and approve their books at every stage along the way.

They, alone, are accountable for the final product; so it is important for self-publishers to go over everything themselves—in addition to the contributions of the copy editors, indexers, designers, proofreaders, et cetera—before approving anything. This will ensure they produce a professional final product they can feel very proud to display to the public.

This article was originally published at Suite101 in February 2010.

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