Q & A

What is "proof-reading"?

How should "proof-reading" be spelled?

Proof-reading versus copy-editing

Why "Q & A"?

 

What is "proof-reading"?

In the publishing industry proof-reading means amendment of the text of a typeset document shortly before printing, focussing on correcting grammatical errors (including punctuation), spelling errors, and miscellaneous typographical errors.  

However, in common parlance "proof-reading" is taken more broadly to refer to reading through and amending the text of any document, whether typeset or not.  This is clear from usage such as in The University of Wisconsin – Madison "Writer's Handbook".

How should "proof-reading" be spelled?

Proof-reading is constructed by combining two words:  "proof", the typeset document shortly before printing, and "reading", which literally just means reading, but implicitly is understood to include also correction of the text as deemed necessary upon the reading of it. 

Originally this was written as distinct words:  e.g. "proof reading for the purpose of making final corrections". 
Through increasing usage, it developed connotations of its own, and began to be hyphenated as "proof-reading". 
Some people now go one step further and write the term as a single, unhyphenated word, namely "proofreading" (as discussed on the Future Perfect website). 

None of these can be said to be inherently 'wrong' or 'right'.  The latter two are both commonly used, and personally I feel "proof-reading" to be a 'happy medium'. 

Proof-reading versus copy-editing

As indicated, the standard service offered here is described as proof-reading. However, some elements of copy-editing are also included, and indeed it is likely that the client will often not be submitting a typeset document for correction. 

Copy-editing can vary in the level of changes to be made.  At the heaviest level, many changes might be made.  In academic works this poses two potential issues:  (1)  the more changes are made, the greater the risk of deviating from the author's intent;  (2)  the more changes are made to the substance of the text, the greater the risk of this being perceived as 'ghost-writing', which is considered unethical in academic works. 

Use of the phrase 'proof-reading' to describe the standard services offered by Division One Academic and Language Services is partly due to the common understanding of this word (outside the publishing industry), and partly to avoid expectations from clients that entire paragraphs or pages would be completely rewritten in the standard service. 

Why "Q & A"?

Q & A stands for question(s) and answer(s).  I could have called this "FAQ", but as I am anticipating the questions before they have been asked of me, I cannot truly say whether they are frequently asked or not.  And other occasionally used terms like "LFAQ" did not seem helpful. 
In any case, if you have another question not addressed here, feel free to submit it on the contact form

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