A proofreader's job it to identify the errors and omissions on a printed or electronic proof, making sure that the editor, designer, and typesetter have all done their jobs correctly. The proofreader will carry out the following tasks:
- Read the complete text, either comparing with the edited copy or reading 'blind' (without the copy);
- Check that all pages are present and numbered correctly, and that running headings are correct;
- Cross-check between the table of contents and the text to make sure that titles and page numbers are correct;
- Ensure consistency by following a style guide or compiling their own;
- Correct spelling, punctuation, grammatical, and typographical errors and mark them in the copy with the appropriate British Standards Institution (BSI) marks or using Acrobat's mark-up features;
- Mark amendments consistently, taking account of the financial implications of changes, and endeavouring not to affect pagination unless necessary;
- Check or insert numbers in cross references;
- Remove confusing word breaks and poor page breaks, particularly short last or first lines of a paragraph that appear at the top or bottom of a page respectively (known as 'widows' and 'orphans');
- Check that font size and style is correct for all text, headings, and captions;
- Ensure that illustrations match their captions and are positioned correctly in the text, and proofread any labels in the illustrations;
- Collate the author's changes with their own, if required;
- Liaise with the copy-editor and/or the author to resolve queries.
A professional proofreader will not re-edit the work at this stage, and will not expect major changes to be introduced by the author.