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Text correction: What is reading against copying?

Proofreaders are often confused by the term “read against copy” so in this article I will try to explain what the term means.

There are two ways a proofreader can be asked to work: by reading against copy or by direct (blind) reading.

When asked to read against copy, the proofreader will receive the author’s original typescript (or a copy thereof) with the editor’s corrections marked on it, and a set of proofs produced by the typographer. The proofreader then compares the proofs with the edited typescript, reviewing both, word by word, line by line, to ensure that the author’s text (along with editorial amendments) has been faithfully translated, with no errors introduced at the editing stage. composition.

When performing a direct or blind reading, the proofreader will only receive the proofs and not the original typescript. In this case, the proofreader cannot tell whether the original typescript has been reproduced correctly along with the editor’s corrections. Its function is simply to verify the content of the tests, marking any clear errors of spelling, punctuation, etc., that it can find.

When reading against copy, most proofreaders operate by scanning a few words from the original typescript and then verifying that they appear correctly in proofs, with editorial corrections implemented correctly. When there is a difference (if, for example, an apostrophe has been omitted), the proofreader indicates it with the corresponding mark.

For each correction, a mark must be made in the text itself and another in the margin. This is done to ensure that when the typographer incorporates the proofreader’s corrections, they do not inadvertently omit any of them.

Mistakes made by the typographer should be highlighted with one colored pen, mistakes by the author / editor with another. This is not to spread blame, but to decide who should pay for the amendments. The standard color coding system is shown below:

Red: used to show errors that the typographer has entered into the text.

Blue: used to show mistakes made by the author and ignored by the text editor, and mistakes made by the text editor itself.

(NOTE: some publishers prefer black ink over blue – you’ll be informed of this when you start working for them.)

Green: this color is reserved for the typographer’s own inquiries or corrections.

The cost of “red” corrections will be borne by the typographer, while that of “blue” corrections will be borne by the publisher (or, in serious cases, the author). With a direct reading, of course, you will not know who the errors may be responsible for. In this case, it will mark all corrections in one color (usually red).

As a freelance proofreader, you are likely to get more direct reads than copy reads. This is because amended typescript is usually returned to the copy editor for proof checking. The role of the proofreader is seen more as an endorsement: a fresh pair of eyes that can spot obvious mistakes that an editor jaded by over-familiarity has missed. Although the amended typescript could be copied and sent to the proofreader as well, in practice this is often seen by editors as a problem. This may not be ideal, but it explains why proofreaders are more likely to be asked to read direct rather than read against copy.

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