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Editors' Association of Canada

Professional Editorial Standards:
E. Standards for Proofreading

Proofreading is examining material after layout to correct errors in textual and visual elements.

A professional proofreader requires a mastery of Part A: The Fundamentals of Editing and meets the following standards.


E1 Recognize the advantages and disadvantages of various proofreading strategies (e.g., reading with a partner, reading on screen or on paper) and apply the appropriate strategy for the material.

E2 Adhere to the editorial style sheet for the material and update it, if necessary. If no style sheet is provided, prepare one and update it as proofreading progresses.

E3 At first-proof stage, read the material word by word, comparing with previous copy if supplied.

E4 After first proof and on all subsequent proofs, refrain from reading the entire text (unless instructed to do so) but check that all changes have been made as requested and that they do not introduce new problems (e.g., check line and page breaks, text flow, table of contents, navigation bar).

E5 At all proof stages, refrain from undertaking structural, stylistic, or copy editing tasks unless authorized to do so.


E6 Ensure that the first proof contains all the elements in the copy prepared for layout (e.g., all paragraphs, visual elements, headings).

E7 Identify and correct typographical and formatting errors, paying special attention to problematic areas (e.g., spelling of proper names and non-English words; accuracy of numbers, tables, and figures).

E8 Check consistency and accuracy of elements in the material (e.g., cross-references, running heads, captions, titles of web windows, hyperlinks, metadata).

E9 Check end-of-line word divisions and mark bad breaks for correction.

E10 Understand design specifications and ensure that they have been followed throughout (e.g., by checking alignment, type size and style, line length, space around major elements, rules, use of colour, appearance of hyperlinks).

E11 Recognize typographical and formatting irregularities (e.g., widows and orphans, overly ragged edges, ill-fitting text, incorrect text colour) and suggest adjustments to eliminate them.


E12 Flag matters that may affect later stages of production (e.g., page cross-references; placement of art; alterations that will change layout, indexing, or web navigation).

E13 Query, or correct if authorized to do so, inconsistencies (e.g., in spelling, punctuation, fact, visual elements, navigation elements, metadata, other content that may not appear on a published web page). Use judgment about the degree to which such queries and corrections are called for. 

E14 Incorporate alterations from authors and other individuals, using judgment and tact. Where comments conflict, use judgment to mark appropriate alterations.

E15 Choose from among various options the changes at each stage of proofreading that will prove the least costly or the most appropriate, given the production process, schedule, medium, desired quality, and type of publication (e.g., in an advertising flyer, pricing errors must be corrected no matter what the stage).


E16 When working on paper proofs, mark clearly and use standard proofreading marks unless another system has been agreed upon. When working on electronic proofs, use an agreed-upon markup system (e.g., PDF markup tools).

E17 Communicate more detailed instructions to the appropriate person (e.g., designer, project supervisor) as needed for the sake of clarity.

E18 Distinguish between and mark differentially printer's errors and author's or editor's alterations, if requested.