As you’ll know if you’ve read The No-Nonsense Proofreading Course or popped into the ‘About the Author’ page on this site, as well as actively working as a proof reader, I also spent two years working as an Operations Manager for the UK’s largest home shopping business, Shop Direct. During this time, I was responsible for overseeing the production of thousands of pages each year, from design, through repro, and finally on to print (or upload, in the case of the numerous websites). Crucial to this process were the proof readers, ensuring pages were presented to the public free from error.
Now, producing pages free from error was one goal (and, it goes without saying, an important one). Another (arguably more important) goal was getting the pages to press on time. Launch dates are crucial to any business with a vast amount of tightly coordinated marketing activity planned to orbit around such launches. As for ‘to press’ dates, these are, quite simply, set in stone. To miss them is to invite very hefty fines. I’ve known fines of as much as £20,000. Per day.
So, as an Operations Manager, I was balancing the need for quality with the need to hit all scheduled milestone dates on time.
This called for compromise.
As a proof reader, particularly if you find yourself working for a commercially driven organisation (and few organisations aren’t commercially driven in one way or another), you’ll be called upon to compromise.
This means identifying corrections that absolutely must be carried out and those which are ‘nice to do’. It’s going to hurt a little, I’m afraid, but you’re just going to have to be strong.
Examples of the kinds of things that absolutely must be carried out include:
• Spelling errors
• Factual inaccuracies
• Incorrect information (e.g. contact details)
• Lack of clarity (and other ‘customer unfriendly’ copy)
• Anything that might bring the business into disrepute
Examples of the kinds of things that are ‘nice to do’ include:
• Stylistic inconsistencies
• Hyphen usage
• Split infinitives and other slight deviations from the strictest rules of English grammar
• Personal bugbears (e.g. you might be irked by the overuse of adverbs)
When marking up a proof, use two different coloured pens, one red and one green. The red marks are crucial, the green ‘nice to do’. This enables you to demonstrate to your employer that you haven’t missed anything and at the same time lets them know that you fully appreciate the need for schedule adherence.
When I was an Operations Manager, one of my duties was carrying out performance reviews. Those proof readers that showed an appreciation of matters beyond the scope of their day-to-day activities (i.e. recognised that they were part of a greater whole) always receives glowing appraisals.
And, hopefully, so will you.
“I am one of those many fools who paid a huge amount of money for a useless course. This book... has opened so many doors for me. I now look on Mike as my mentor as I embark on a career. Thank you Mike.”
Emma Steel, Proofreader and International Structural Editor.
“ I thoroughly enjoyed the course and am so glad that I decided to take it... the whole experience was invaluable. My proofreading service is now well established and your course played no small part in getting it off the ground.”
Hache L. Jones, Proofreader.
“I'd just like to thank you first of all for writing such a great, straight forward eBook, and then going above and beyond what I would even expect as a customer by providing us, completely free of charge, updated versions months later!”
Rachel Gee, Trainee Proofreader.
“What can I say? Worth every penny and then some! God Bless! This a fabulous course.”
Teresa Richardson, Proofreader.
“As someone who has effectively been proofreading for thirty years, I found Mike’s No-Nonsense Proofreading Course an invaluable introduction and a very useful practical guide to many aspects of this discipline. I can wholeheartedly recommend it as the ideal starting point, and much more besides.”
Jeremy Meehan, Proofreader.
My name's Mike Sellars and I'm an experienced proofreader and the author of The No-Nonsense Proofreading Course. Click here to find out more about me.
The No-Nonsense Proofreading Course
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“As someone who has been proofreading for 30 years, I found Mike’s course an invaluable introduction and a very useful practical guide to many aspects of the discipline. I can wholeheartedly recommend it.” Jeremy Meehan, Proofreader.
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