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.
Books come in all shapes and sizes, from picture books for children to 1000-page, text-only novels. No matter the book or who it’s for, design matters. The design can set the tone and expectations for a book. A reader expects something much different in the design of a horror novel compared to a romance. Good design is invisible, especially with text-heavy books. It is the lack of distraction that makes the design good. While image-heavy books can—and should—focus on aesthetics, how they are put together and designed should not distract from the content.
Last term, boxes were meticulously packed and labeled for either our temporary office or deep storage. Some supplies even lived in managers’ cars during the winter break. There was one item, however, that needed special attention: our 1885 Chandler & Price letterpress.