Innumerable grammar memes flood the internet every day. Most of us have come across one at some point or another. There are several ways people react to them—laugh it off, poke fun at someone who you know is a grammar fanatic, don’t see what all the fuss is about, or think that grammar is an utterly pointless pile of slush. But these memes resonate at a deeper level for those of us who work in the publishing industry, especially in the editorial field.
For many aspiring freelance editors, proofreading is the best (and in some cases, the only) way to get a foot in the door. But what are proofreaders actually looking for?
Unlike copyediting, which focuses purely on the text, proofreaders engage with the book after the interior has been designed and laid out. That means that in addition to keeping an eye out for egregious grammar errors and typos, the proofreader is focused on aesthetics: eliminating typographic gaffes such as widows, orphans, and runts; marking bad breaks and word stacks; and ensuring design elements such as subheads and running heads are handled consistently.