A 9-Step Checklist for Reviewing Page Proofs

You’ve just received a set of page proofs for your book and you have no idea what to do with them. “Review them,” you are told. OK, but what are you reviewing them for?

The following checklist outlines the tasks of a professional proofreader when editing page proofs. As the author, you should be on the lookout for many of these same problems.

  • Ensure all pages are included.
  • Check pagination to ensure pages are numbered consecutively. There should be no page number on blank pages and a “drop folio” — a page number at the bottom of the page — on chapter openers.
  • Check running heads to make sure they are correct and that none are missing. Check spelling carefully. Note that there should be no running head on blank pages or chapter openers. Running heads for fiction are usually author name on the left and book title on the right. Nonfiction generally uses book title on the left and chapter title on the right, or part title on the left and chapter title on the right.
  • Check the table of contents against the text to make sure everything matches. If the word chapter is used in the TOC, it should also appear on the chapter opener, and vice versa.
  • Read through the entire book to correct spelling, punctuation, grammar, consistency, sense. Remember, you are not copyediting the book; you are polishing it.
  • Check cross-references and fill in any missing information.
  • Watch for bad breaks, such as widows, orphans, or broken contractions at the end of a line.
  • Ensure design elements are treated consistently. All first-level heads should look the same, all second-level heads should look the same, and so on. Pay particular attention to spacing.
  • Check twinning. Facing pages should align top and bottom.

Most traditionally published authors don’t check twinning or mark bad breaks. They leave those steps to the proofreader and in-house editor. Self-publishers, even those who hire a proofreader, may want to go through all of these steps, as they don’t have an in-house editor to monitor the work of the proofreader and ensure quality.

Like this blog? Look for Perfect Bound: How to Navigate the Book Publishing Process Like a Pro, coming Fall 2014

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