Our Golden Rules of proofreading

 In Headline, Opinion

Proofreading is a real skill. You have to have an eye for detail, and it requires real concentration for short periods of time; regular breaks are vital.

We wrote this a little while back, and thought we’d post an extract from our training courses on JD Editorial’s three Golden Rules of proofreading. Follow them, and you’ll be on the right track!


1. Consistency, consistency, consistency

We have provided proofreading training and consultancy services for dozens of businesses over the years, and we really can’t place enough emphasis on the value of consistency. You’ll be really surprised at what “points of contention” you can get away with, provided you stick by your decision throughout…


Proofreading golden rules

This was found in a presentation entitled Top Tips for Proofreading… What is wrong (and ironic) here? Firstly, just below the point about “capitalisation” (US spelling), there is a great example of inconsistent editorial style. And again with the full stop after “units of measure”!


What sort of things should you look for when checking for consistency, then?

  • Unnecessary Capitalisation Of Titles And Subheadings;
  • Accidental differences in fonts;
  • Formatting of headings;
  • Use of numerals and digits;
  • Punctuation (e.g., in lists).

Ensure you develop a consistent, repeatable and reliable format, and much can be forgiven!

2. Confidence

Have confidence in your editorial decisions. Again, this is linked with the first point, in that if you have a consistent style and stick to it, you are far more likely to have confidence in your style. A good example of this is in punctuation.

Many punctuation decisions are right or wrong, yes, but some are quite subjective. Our rule of thumb is that punctuation should always make the meaning of a sentence – and paragraph – clear for the reader. Use as much punctuation as is necessary, but no more.

Compare the following two sentences:

‘Cats like other animals, need plenty of food and water.’

‘Cats, like other animals, need plenty of food and water.’

That extra comma is pretty important, no?!

3. Precision

This is probably the hardest of the three to master. But don’t fret; it can be done!!

Proofreading is all about the eye for detail. If you have the skill, knowledge and focus, the other two points come more easily.

Just some of the most common points we highlight to our clients include:

  • Spelling – US v UK: This is a common error, because Microsoft Word defaults to US English, and often changes words such as “organisation” to “organization”… Don’t forget which form of English you are using;
  • Nouns v verbs: A lot of words can be quite confusing, in that their noun and verb forms can be similar. Take, for example, “effect” and “affect”. Do you know which is the verb form? Or “practice” and “practise”? We have some good rules of thumb to learn these;
  • Noun-verb agreements: This is a huge bugbear of ours! “Data” is a plural noun, so it should be used with a plural verb form (“the data show …”, not “the data shows…”) acheter viagra au canada. The opposite is true for nouns such as group, organisation and team – they are singular nouns, so we should say “the group has worked well…”, not “the group have worked well…”.


Interested in our proofreading services?

We offer a wide range of proofreading and editorial services, including:

  • Proofreading works for students and authors;
  • Regular proofreading contracts for businesses;
  • Consultancy on developing corporate proofreading systems;
  • Proofreading training and workshops;
  • And much more!

Click here to get in touch with us today and make an enquiry.

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