Hard copy versus electronic copy proofreading

I don’t normally edit or proofread on screen. I find I miss things and, anyway, reading hard copy exercises different eye muscles (apparently). So I usually print my editing and proofreading jobs off so that I can carefully work on the hard copy and then transfer the edits to the electronic version. I can also then take the hard-copy work anywhere.

This gives me a second pass too as I work on screen, because sometimes I still pick things up on screen that I may have missed on the hard copy, such as too many spaces between words. It works both ways.

If a client has a straight proofreading job, then I’ll sometimes get the galleys to check through the post, or the pdfs, instead of a Word or OpenOffice document sent via email or FTP (File Transfer Protocol – they give me access to their hard drive and I can pick up from or drop work on there).

Hard copies are better because I can see exactly how the finished product is likely to look on the published page and it isn’t artificially altered due to my printer settings. It’s also quicker for me because I only have to mark up the paper copy, I don’t risk losing time making electronic changes that are subject to reliable technology and a constant power supply.

The electronically edited versions go back to the client with the original file name now prefixed with my initials, and the client will also get a “clean” copy, with all changes accepted, if they want one. If I have the contact details of the author too, I’ll send a copy back to him/her as well.

Both the client and the author (who can also be the same person) can then see my tracked changes and any comments or queries I’ve flagged within the text. Then they can respond to my queries, and accept or reject my changes.

The pdfs or galleys go back via the post or we drop them in by hand, to make sure they get there. I’d hate to spend a week marking up a book for it to go missing in the post and have to do it all again.

At the moment I don’t have a toner cartridge in my laser printer. It ran out a bit faster than I expected it to, and I didn’t have a spare cartridge in stock. As soon as I realised, I ordered a replacement cartridge as we can’t always guarantee our local bricks and mortar stores will have the cartridge in stock especially now that Samsung (my printer) has merged with Hewlett Packard (HP – not my printer) and the emphasis now seems to be on HP printers. Also, most bricks and mortar stores are a good drive away for us.

I ordered my cartridge from a third-party seller via they-who-shall-not-be-named(-at-the-moment as I’m a bit upset with them). This morning I discovered that the planned Wednesday delivery is now Friday.

And I have proofreading work in that, on this occasion, needs printing off first.

So this week I’m proofreading on screen. This always takes me longer as I’m paranoid I’ll miss something really obvious or if the tracked changes are on then my work isn’t as accurate as if I can see it in real life.

The job will work out quicker as I won’t have to do the hard copy edits as well as the electronic copy changes. But the actual proofreading will take slightly longer because I’ll be taking extra care.

How do you prefer to edit or proofread? Your own work or other people’s?

2 thoughts on “Hard copy versus electronic copy proofreading

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  1. I can proof easily on a screen. Editing is a slightly different beast. Client edits and shorter works — onscreen. Longer things, like book manuscripts, I print out one chapter at a time, spread it on a table, and visualize where it is, then where it should be. I’ve been known to number paragraphs to show the order in which I think they should go. You can’t really accomplish that level of editing on a screen.

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    1. Numbering the paragraphs is a good idea. Usually, I rearrange it and leave the change tracked so that the client can (a) see what I’ve done, and (b) moved it back if they want. Proofreading that requires a paragraph move is usually just drawn all over with arrows. I may try numbering the pars instead. Thanks. 🙂

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