I have noticed a tendency for the term ‘proofing’ to be used interchangeably with ‘proofreading’. I thought this might be a good opportunity to explain a little more about proofreading. In publishing terminology, ‘proofing’ means providing a proof. It is not another term for proofreading.
Once a typescript has been copy-edited and design instructions have been established, the marked-up typescript (copy) is sent to the typesetter. The typesetter then produces the proof. The proof is a way to ‘try out’ the typesetter’s work. It allows the material to be checked and corrected before the publication process moves any further.
A proofreader will read and correct this proof – proofreading.
The proofreader will typically check for any errors that have been introduced during typesetting (as well as those that may have made it through the copy-editing stage), ensure that the material has been presented as intended and without any poor outcomes (bad word breaks, widows and orphans, etc.), and make sure that any page references are correct. The proofreader’s job is to ensure consistency and accuracy, but the actual tasks undertaken may vary depending on the client’s requirements.
If you would like further information on what a proofreader does and does not do, the Society for Editors and Proofreaders has a handy page here.