How Technology Has Changed Proofreading

by Davina on August 16, 2011

Are proofreaders’ marks old-fashioned?

You may have seen these symbols commonly used by editors or proofreaders. The following image was taken from The Chicago Manual of Style Online.

Editors and proofreaders have always used these symbols (or variations of them) while marking up proofs and manuscripts. With the explosion of online marketing and social media, self-published ebooks, blogs, websites and sales pages are prevalent. The nature of proofreading has evolved as a result of this new medium, thanks to the Internet and software such as Microsoft Word and Adobe Acrobat.

Online proofreading made easy

For my home-based editing business, 99% of markup is done on the computer. If a client sends a copy deck as a Microsoft Word file, the track changes feature allows me to make all the edits electronically. There is no need to use proofreading symbols as the revisions are inserted directly into the file.

Adobe Acrobat Pro is used to mark up documents that are already in layout. If you own Acrobat Pro you have the ability to mark up layouts right on your computer. These marked-up PDFs can be emailed to your client and shared with the appropriate team members. Again, the typical proofreaders’ marks are not used when marking up a PDF, such as in the example provided below. Click the image for a larger view.

As much as I appreciate the ease of electronic markup with Microsoft Word and Adobe Acrobat, I miss using “old-fashioned” proofreaders’ marks. They’re a language all their own.

I guess proofreaders’ marks aren’t really that old-fashioned though. For the most part, they’re just not necessary these days. We’ve certainly come a long way from the days of typewriter correction tape and whiteout, haven’t we? I wonder what’s next…?

What software has made the most difference in your business?

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Hilary August 16, 2011 at 1:27 pm

Hi Davina .. this is completely beyond me .. but! tell me do you put copy into ebook format? Do you know how to upload to Amazon? etc etc .. not for me, for someone in Canada?

To answer your question .. absolutely and unequivocally something that’s been around for 10,000+ years .. and which I fortunately (being not very clever) .. used and learnt another use for them .. my little fingers – and recognising via my brain (left or right – not sure) ..when I’d miss typed .. I was never very good at it – so was extremely grateful when golf-balls and tape came in …

Cheers – Hilary

Davina August 16, 2011 at 8:51 pm

Hi Hilary.
Yes, I know how to put copy into ebooks. I enjoy formatting books! I haven’t yet learned how to upload to Amazon, but I’d be happy to help you out with that. I will email you to see what I can do for you.

LOL, yay for your little fingers!! Golf balls and tape??? :)

Hilary August 16, 2011 at 11:33 pm

Hi Davina .. it’s a thought only. Anyway I’ll email you ..

Re golf balls and tape .. do you remember taking off the Elite (12) golf ball and putting on the Pica (10) golf ball to increase the size of the type? Also there was a correction ribbon that worked in conjunction with these … probably known as type balls .. see Wikipedia half way down .. and they had a composer ‘golf ball’ …

Cheers Hilary

patricia August 18, 2011 at 1:14 pm

I always have trouble turning off the tracking when a page is sent back to me for corrections – big trouble…and IT Girl thinks it is funny.

I remember my mother typing all of my Father’s Resumes on a portable Underwood typewriter with copy paper and onion skin extra pages…and having to start over again every time she made a mistake – no ribbon or correction fluid. She was determined that my sister and I learn to type – but we learned on IBM selectrics with correcting ribbon and on my first job we had a mimeo machine and a photo copier…no onion skin

Graduate school was a nightmare of 5 3 page papers a week with onion skin copies and then the 100- 200 page thesis in 2 areas….It cost me so much money and then both of my original thesis papers were lost in a Library fire and my copy my husband stored in the garage and it mildewed away – I just save and save everything on the computer now…even my emails…which drives IT Girl nearly crazy

Very interesting. I would like to learn how to do that tracking well.
I tried to put my next Wise Ears newsletter up and lost the template that I paid Kim for….aargh…with the help of the newsletter people, I got the template back – now I am afraid to try again…Kim will be back from vacation on Monday – she will have a lot of work to catch up with….I am near the bottom of the list..
live and learn :)
patricia´s last blog post ..Holy Pie

Davina August 20, 2011 at 1:26 pm

Yes! I do remember those type balls now, Hilary. I had to Google the image but as soon as I saw it I remembered. Thanks! Re-united with a piece of my past…

Hi Patricia.
LOL! I’m laughing out loud right now that IT Girl thinks this is funny. Hehe. It can be frustrating when you just-can’t-figure some of these things out.

Oh, I remember those onion skin extra pages too. That was frustrating having to start over again. Sometimes I would just use whiteout, but then the onion skin would stick to it. LOL.

That first IBM electric with correcing ribbon was great, wasn’t it?! Wow, that’s too bad about you losing your thesis papers :( Yes, I save constantly when I’m working on the computer, and back up regularly. Not always though… and then I regret breaking the vigilant cycle.

I’m glad you got your newsletter back. If you need help with the tracking, I’d be happy to see what I can do for you. A 15-minute phone call would probably do the trick. I will email you and we can set something up if you would like.

Chris Edgar August 20, 2011 at 4:42 pm

Man, Acrobat Professional seems awesome, except for the $500 price tag. I think I will ultimately knuckle under because using Acrobat Pro will keep me away from FedEx/Kinko’s when I need to scan docs, and not having to drive there all the time will sure be a time saver. The fact that it’s integrated into Word is great too. Oh, and hi Davina. :)

Davina August 20, 2011 at 6:22 pm

Hi Chris. :)
I know. It’s a little steep isn’t it? It’s more than paid for itself since I bought it over a year ago, not to mention that it’s a business expense for tax purposes. Sounds like it would pay off for you too, saving time spent running out to scan your docs, plus the cost. Yes, you can save a Word document as a PDF. I love it.

Lizbeth September 26, 2011 at 5:57 pm

I can say that it is a good idea and seems very interesting. I would like to learn how to do that tracking well too.Yeah! sounds like it would pay off for you too, saving time spent running out to scan your docs, plus the cost. Thanks for the share!
Lizbeth´s last blog post ..The Connection between Renal Diet and Phosphorus

Davina October 31, 2011 at 11:15 am

You’re welcome, Lizbeth!
Using Adobe Acrobat is *so* convenient and efficient; especially when you’re dealing with a large number of people at once.

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