Proofreaders are the last line of defense against errors. A proofreading project typically should be in its final stages: pages should be set; images, equations, tables, and other visual elements should be finalized and laid out; front and back matter should be included, and so on.
It’s a little late in the review process to be revising large sections of text, changing hyphenation of a term throughout, and making other broad, large-scale edits. However, this doesn’t mean a proofreading project won’t have editing-level or even content-level issues. Here’s how to address them if they arise in the proofreading stage.
Alert Your Contact Immediately
Once you realize there’s a larger issue with a laid-out document, reach out to your project contact. Even though the file may have been through many hands, it’s still possible to turn up a stop-the-presses issue at this stage. The sooner the problem is shared, the sooner it can be addressed. It’s wise to ensure you receive a response in this situation; if your contact remains silent, send a few reminder notifications before the project deadline.
Stay in Role
Don’t get distracted. Yes, you’ve identified a larger issue and notified the project manager. It’s easy to fall into an editing mindset at this point, but you are responsible for proofreading corrections, so stay focused on that role (and its limitations). Extra work is only considered going above and beyond if you’re still accomplishing all of the expectations for the proofreading phase.
If you’ve received a response to your initial contact, follow up and ask if the issue you found affects the proofreading requirements. If there’s still no response, note if any additional changes should be considered because of this issue. This provides the most complete information to the project manager while offering workable solutions to the identified issue.
Often these issues cannot be completely corrected so late in the publishing process, but notifying the client gives them the opportunity to do so, if possible. You provided a thorough proofread and showed you care about the client’s final document just as much as they do.
Learn more about the role of proofreading in our November Master Class, “Essentials of Proofreading,” with Heather Saunders on November 15, 2017.