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The Proofreading Checklist: A Key to Catching Errors

Proofreaders generally look for two kinds of errors while proofreading essays, journal articles, books, and other forms of writing: language-related errors and “non-text” formatting errors.

To keep track of what to look for, proofreaders will often create or modify an existing proofreading checklist. The kind of checklist a proofreader follows will depend on the kind of text a proofreader is working on. For example, a proofreading checklist for an ebook will look very different from a print book checklist. To demonstrate the point, I’ve listed some proofreading checklists for a variety of texts below:

Many publishers and organizations will have a specific proofreading checklist that they’d like proofreaders to follow. Otherwise, McGraw-Hill’s Proofreading Handbook, Butcher’s Copy-editing, by Judith Butcher et al. and Proofreading Secrets by Elizbeth Macfie can get you started with creating your own proofreading checklist.

Students can use proofreading checklists, too. Here are a few that are especially helpful:

There are many tasks to keep track of in the process of producing good writing. Having a proofreading checklist on hand for that “last look” can help proofreaders and authors catch errors they’d otherwise miss.

About the authors:
Carla Douglas and  Corina Koch MacLeod are experienced editors and authors of  several books.