What is proofreading?
Proofreading is the final stage in the preparation of a document that is to be used by other people. It involves checking for clarity of expression, spelling, punctuation, grammar and consistency in formatting. English-speaking documents are checked for consistency in use, for example, of UK English or US English, throughout.
What is the history of proofreading?
Proofreading takes its name from traditional printing presses, where ‘galley proofs’ were mockups of a printed manuscript to see how the published document would look. These proofs were checked for mistakes and corrected before being used to print the final piece.
Why does proofreading matter?
1. Reputation is protected and, possibly, enhanced
Do you want to give the best possible impression to your clients or perhaps a prospective employer?
Documents that are expressed clearly and without errors convey the message that the individual or business cares about their image. It demonstrates the organisation or individual took the time to make sure that their work was presented in the best possible way.
2. Clarity of message: ensures we say what we mean
When the intended message is clear it allows the reader to focus on the information, not the mistakes, and contributes to the overall positive impression you are trying to achieve.
For example, punctuation – in this case, commas – can show completely different outcomes:
Woman Without Man
A professor wrote the following sentence on the board and asked his class to punctuate it:
Woman without her man is nothing.
Half of the class punctuated the sentence in the following way:
Woman: without her, man is nothing.
The other half of the class responded with the following:
Woman, without her man, is nothing.
It’s clear, from this example, punctuation is indeed, important!
Typing errors can also alter the intended message:
ABC Company is not seeking new staff to join its team.
ABC Company is now seeking new staff to join its team.
3. Can save money
Mistakes found after a document has been printed/published can lead to funds needing to be spent on reprinting. This leads to waste in marketing budgets and/or limitations on other projects. It can also prevent embarrassing or expensive retractions.
4. Improves the chances of getting a job
When applying for a job, you want to give the best impression possible. Documents being used in an application need to be carefully proofread to improve your chances of being selected for an interview. First impressions count.
How to proofread
Proofreading is a highly detailed skill and can take time to master. Once your document is ready, check it yourself and then ask someone else to check it. Finding errors in your own work can be difficult as your brain is seeing what it thinks was written. Handing drafts to a colleague from another area of the business is useful as they will be able to spot an error the rest of the team has missed due to viewing the document multiple times.
Always use the spellcheck function in your word processing program and pay attention to whether you have chosen UK English or US English eg. programme vs program. Make sure you are consistent in your spelling.
“I’d really like to eat grandpa.”
“I’d really like to eat, grandpa.”
10 of the most common proofreading errors are:
When proofreading your work, it’s a good idea to keep an eye out for these types of mistakes.
Professional proofreaders are available. A Google search will list those available close by. They have years of experience at document preparation prior to publication/printing. We highly recommend engaging one. We offer proofreading as an additional service to artwork and content creation. Please contact us to discuss further.
Suggested Reading & Resources
Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation. Lynne Truss, 2003
Have You Eaten Grandma? Gyles Brandreth, 2019
Australian Government Style Manual. https://www.stylemanual.gov.au/
Examples above are in general usage on the internet.
Graphic design is a profession with eclectic influences. There are strands from fine art, from pop culture, from all forms of media, throw in history, aligned occupations, a dash of experimentation and wide-ranging interests from outside commercial work. Constant curiosity about the world is vital to keep imagination firing and updated on industry trends. Each designer will have their own set of topics, ideas and activities that intrigue them.
We highly recommend student and entry level designers have a broad range of interests to visually energise their thinking. It might be as simple as a daily walk through a park to experience the weather and its ever-changing patterns. It is important never to limit your visual horizons. All designers should aspire to life-long learning.
Designers from all professions are known for quirky personal collections. Some may seek out obscure album cover art. Some hunt around for historical packaging of one specific product category. There are collections of original Penguin book covers, matchbooks, Matchbox® cars, hats, shoes, figurines, menus from cafes, postcards, watches, and jazzy tea pots. Literally as broad as the limitations of time and budget. The important take out, is always seeking and curating, learning about the world beyond daily parameters.
Wide ranging artistic activities
Creative outlets are not limited to collecting. Some designers apply their skills to cooking, making fancy baked goods or complex recipes, admiring the culinary art of chefs. Some will collect and grown bonsai, immersing themselves in the intricate patterns and small cuts required. Fine art painting, printmaking, illustration, calligraphy, and life drawing are also popular. Many designers will take up gardening, starting with a few pot plants and increasing the scope throughout their life. Visiting art galleries, museums, architectural landmarks are also high on the list of engaging activities.
Music and musicians
A cursory search will demonstrate the close and inextricable link between all forms of music and graphic design. The interchange is obvious, and the trove of cover art is a testament to this. There are many celebrated musicians who studied at art school, and in particular, graphic design, prior to their musical careers. Charlie Watts and Ronnie Wood from the Rolling Stones, David Byrne and Jerry Harrison from Talking Heads, David Bowie, Pete Townshend and Freddie Mercury, to name a few. In turn, many designers have music as another creative pursuit. For example, playing an instrument, joining a band, or going to gigs, not to mention, listening to music while working.
If you question a designer, many will have a non-commercial outlet for their personal projects. This is the space where their creativity can run free. We are going to share some of ours here.
Kym Ramadge / Design Director: in my spare time I pursue fine art photography, primarily working in black and white, focusing on long exposure, minimalism, detail, texture, and pattern. First introduced to photography during high school and codified during tertiary studies, in the last 10 years have reached obsessive levels of interest, as time permits. Working as a professional graphic designer has meant collaborating with many talented commercial and landscape photographers. I’ve learnt something from each of them along the way. The difference with my personal work is, I am not under pressure to get the shot on the day, I can take my time, refining, re-shooting and re-visiting locations. Working primarily with digital, I have also joined the current Zen wave, slowing down and again shooting 35mm film. I was humbled to have three of my images commended in the 2022 Mono Awards.
Emma Echter / Lead Designer: in my spare time I alternate between illustration and quilting. During the Melbourne lockdowns, I invested a lot of time honing my illustration skills. As a young girl I dreamed of being a professional illustrator – creating illustrations for all my school projects. I started quilting about 15 years ago, and quickly fell in love with it – it is tactile, versatile and when hand-pieced, portable. Quilting is a way of illustrating and creating graphic patterns that is as close to 3-dimensional artwork as I can get. The next step in my creative journey is to find a way to combine illustration and quilting, and with the availability of digital fabric printing, the possibilities are endless…