Sat. Sep 25th, 2021

What makes a good book proofreader?

The spelling norm is the first filter that a good text must pass, but it is not the only one. The proofreader not only applies the rules established by an academy, a style manual or an expert but also knows the uses and customs that give a language its genuine character; In addition, it applies the mechanisms to link or separate ideas; likewise, it dominates punctuation and is capable of endowing the text with linguistic richness.

A stylebook is made up of writing guidelines established for a set of publications or a company (for example, a publisher or newspaper). We are determining criteria in matters such as the use of upper and lower case letters, italics and quotation marks, optional accentuation, footnotes and bibliographic references.

What the proofreader does

The Book proofreading attends to the language and ensures that its use is adapted to the writing purpose. Therefore, what you need to do is improve the text.

A good text full of conjunction is not incorrect, although it loses quality and expressive capacity. However, the corrector will detect and diversify between, although, but, although depending on the degree of restriction you want in each phrase, as well as the possible cacophonies and repetitions.

Although the tasks that a proofreader assumes will depend on the client’s requirements and the type of text, the usual ones are the following:

  • Detect and solve spelling errors.
  • Remedy lexicon errors.
  • Increase the richness and linguistic diversity of a text.
  • Correct syntax errors (inappropriate prepositions or conjunctions, misuse of verb tenses 
  • Modify the syntax and punctuation to make the text more elegant or harsher, or less choppy
  • Adapt the punctuation to facilitate the reader’s understanding.
  • Apply spelling and typographical resources not subject to strict rules (capital letters, italics, bold) and use them according to the text’s peculiarities.
  • Unify the criteria of any type that have been adopted throughout the text.

The proofreader takes care of the tongue. It corrects errors and makes the text more effectively fulfil the expressive intention of the author. Although he works for his client, he never forgets that the recipient of his intervention is the reader.

What the proofreader doesn’t do

The proofreader is not a copywriter; neither is the table editor nor the model maker; neither is a communication consultant. Some proofreaders may also offer these services and perform them optimally, but they are different from proofreading.

Good writers demand that their texts be corrected. They know that excellent proofreading will improve what they have written. Book proofreading does not invent the text’s content; neither does it create or modify the author’s style. What he does is put all his knowledge at the service of that style.

The proofreader’s role does not cover any of the following tasks:

  • Write a text.
  • Rewrite what someone has written.
  • Order the ideas in a text.
  • Check the fidelity or quality of a translation.
  • Advice on communication strategies.
  • Check data or the integrity of the text.

To correct is not to teach language classes. The proofreaders improve a text, but it is not part of his job to explain the rationale for each change or justify his decisions. Just as a doctor does not detail human physiology or a mechanic elaborates on the four-stroke engine’s

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