Why You Should Proofread Your Book AFTER Typesetting

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1106 Design

November 24, 2010

Some of our authors tell us they don’t need proofreading, because their manuscript was edited, or because they proofread it themselves in Word before typesetting. We just shake our heads and sigh, because we know what we find when other authors DO allow us to proofread their book. Hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of errors.

Before desktop publishing, and before self-publishing, a standard procedure was followed in book publishing: The manuscript was edited and proofread multiple times. Only when all the editors, the author, and senior staff signed off on the manuscript did it go into production (typesetting).

Before desktop publishing, typeset “galleys” were produced, meaning, the type was set in long strips of paper, produced by the phototypesetting machines of the era. These galleys were sent to the author, and reviewed yet again by editors and staff. Corrections were made, and only then was the book “pasted up” into pages and sent to the printer.

While the procedure sounds archaic now, it did accomplish one major goal: corrections after the book was paginated were very rare.

Today, with desktop publishing equipment, pages are made and changed, sometimes multiple times. And sometimes, NOBODY reads the pages after they have been typeset — a dangerous practice indeed.

I’m thinking of this today, because I’m currently reading a book by a well-known book coach. Her advice is rock solid, and I’m enjoying the book immensely, but oh, dear, something has gone terribly wrong. There are errors on nearly every page.

The errors are so numerous, I’m guessing the wrong version of the manuscript was accidentally typeset, and because the pages were not proofread after typesetting, the errors were not discovered before printing.

This author is passionate about quality book publishing; I know she would never approve, and if I were in her shoes, I’d want to know. I’m going to tell her, but not before the Thanksgiving holiday.

In the meantime, please understand that when your book designer encourages you to order professional proofreading after your pages are typeset, there’s a really, really, good reason.

What do you want to know? What topics should we explore together? How can we help you along your publishing journey? Everyone here at 1106 Design wants to help. Post your comment here or email us using the Contact Us page.

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