Maybe I’m particularly finicky, but I love a ‘zine with the extra polish. And the only way to get that is by proofing. Proofing can be the most arduous part of creating a ‘zine, but the impression created by proofed and unproofed versions can be massively different. So here are my Six Sexy Proofing Tips…
1Proof on Paper
It’s nice to save paper by doing your proofing on screen, but it’s not very practical. First off, only one person can proof at a time, and only at the computer. Second, it’s much harder on the eyes. Third, what you see on the screen may not be what you see on paper. Just use both sides of the paper to save the environment and your wallet! (Of course, if your final destination is not paper, such as a pdf or html file, you’ll also need to check in those formats.)
2Get Others to Help
No matter how good a proofer you are, you’ll probably end up too deep within the text, having read it a dozen times, to pick all the errors. Other people will also pick up different things, such as possible alternate ways of reading a sentence. You’re not proofing for yourself, but for a wide range of readers — so get as wide a range of proofers as you can!
3You Can’t Proof in One Run
While the first run-through will pick up most of the errors, it will not get them all. You’ll probably even introduce a few while correcting others. So you need to go through them at least twice, and preferably keep checking till you find no errors.
It’s all too easy, having read the particular text many times over, to just skim-read while proofing. This does not work well. I therefore find it useful to read aloud, or at least to do so in my head. Emphasise sentence structure as you do so — this will help pick up awkward sentences. You’re not checking the gist, but the detail.
This is especially important if you have multiple people proofing. Give everyone a different colour pen, and make them initial the page at the top once they’ve proofed it.
6Don’t Just Proof the Text!
While I’ve been mainly talking about the text, that’s not the only proofing you do. You also need to check all the graphical elements — for example, does a page number get overlaid with the line at the bottom of the page? Similarly, if you have a couple of lines to join up, make sure they do — if they miss by a few pixels it will jump out to the eye! A lot of these types of errors can be avoided by decent initial design. Depending on the application you’re using to create your ‘zine, you may have the option to have background elements appear on each page — if so, learn how to use these as it greatly reduces your chances of slipping up.
This page last updated by David J Richardson on Sat, 11 Jan 2003.