Proof is a term we learn in childhood when someone says: “give me proof” or in mathematics classes “the proof of the equation is….” If you are a scientist or mathematician, you still use the term proof regularly. If you work in layout, design, publishing, advertising, and printing fields, you too use the word “proof” in ways that the word takes on additional meanings.
“Proof Copy” means “this is your last chance to catch any errors, to make any changes, or to fix any problems. After this, you are stuck with what we produce.” No one says it this way, but this is what it means to have a proof copy in hand and to sign off on it – with or without any changes.
“To Proof” means to review all text, visual, graphic, image, content, alignment – EVERYTHING on a page to ensure that it is 1. Correct and 2. The Way You Want It. Attention to detail is critical when proofing. When proofing multiple page documents, you want someone with an eye for the details of the ENTIRE document. In other words, if something appears one way on page one, but another on page ten and they are meant to appear the same way, the proofer needs to catch the discrepancy. Detail-oriented is a must-have skill set for proof-readers and proofers.
One client of mine has two team members who are strong proof-readers. As a result, we don’t bring them into the reading of documents until we are one step before final-approving. Having them read at the near-end of the process keeps them fresh and able to catch things that those of us working on the documents for months are likely to miss.
Sometimes, multiple rounds of proofing are required because changes have been made to the proof copy and returned to you for another round of proofing. When this happens, proof EVERYTHING AGAIN because when one change is made a cascade of other affects that you didn’t want to happen can happen. It reminds me of the saying “Measure Twice, Cut Once.”
Proof and Proof Again, Then Print!
What have you proofed lately? Is it time to improve your proofing process and skills?
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