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4.1.3. Proofreading at the Publications Office

Proofreaders, who cast a fresh eye over the text to be published, are responsible for checking both linguistic matters (observance of language rules and conventions) and technical aspects (observance of typographical conventions). However, they are not revisers: proofreaders must remain impartial with regard to the author’s intentions; the latter still bears sole responsibility for the substance of the text.

Finalisation of manuscripts

Manuscripts are handed to proofreaders for what is known as finalisation (typographical preparation and text reading). This stage, which precedes production, is aimed at rectifying any spelling and grammatical mistakes and at revealing any imprecision and inconsistency, so as to ensure that the message is perfectly comprehensible. A detailed examination must be carried out in order to ensure that there are no discrepancies in the manuscript. Any doubts or queries must be dealt with in close cooperation with the originating department.

Proofreaders are also responsible for harmonising the text on the basis of the interinstitutional rules and conventions laid down in this style guide.

At the request, or with the prior agreement, of the originating department, more thorough editorial changes may be made (editorial revision of the text).

The page-numbering of the manuscript, which the originating department must do beforehand, is checked and, where necessary, completed. Any missing part of the manuscript must be reported immediately. The footnote markers in the text must be checked to make sure that they correspond to the actual footnotes themselves.

It is the originating department’s responsibility to check that the language versions of a manuscript tally with one another. The Publications Office may, where necessary, carry out this check if the originating department agrees to allow sufficient time.

The main purpose of manuscript finalisation is to facilitate typesetting in such way that subsequent additional costs can be avoided. The quality of the manuscript delivered to the printshop is therefore a key factor in the production process. If authors follow the instructions for preparing and presenting manuscripts (see Section 4.2) and ensure that the text is of the highest quality, they can keep production costs down and speed up production (as the ‘passed for press’ form can even be issued on the first proofs).

A defective manuscript can be sent back to its author.

A good manuscript is the key to fast, high-quality production.

Proofs and author’s corrections

Proofs are reviewed by the proofreaders, who check that the text tallies with the manuscript provided and complies with the rules in force for each language. A set of first proofs is sent at the same time to the originating department for approval and for any author’s corrections to be inserted.

Author’s corrections on the proofs must be kept to a minimum. The originating department must insert its author’s corrections clearly, legibly and in such a way that the proofreader is not obliged to review the text line by line (corrections should be in red, clearly visible, perhaps circled or marked in the margin; annotating author’s corrections on a separate sheet should be avoided).

From the point of view of the printer, ‘author’s correction’ means any correction on the proofs that differs from the original manuscript (improvements, corrections, harmonisations, updates, clarifications arising from a confusing or poorly prepared manuscript, etc.). Such corrections will be invoiced separately. At this stage, turns of phrase should not be changed, digital data received at the last minute (and more recently than the reference period of the work) should not be updated and punctuation marks should not be added in the quest for some form of elusive perfection.

Any additions or deletions – from a simple comma to a whole paragraph – are author’s corrections that must as far as possible be avoided, on account of the delays and extra costs that they may entail. Such changes can be very costly and seemingly disproportionate in terms of the corrections requested. Even the smallest change can lead to the reworking of whole paragraphs, or to a new page-setting for several pages or even the whole work, with potential impact on the pagination, on the table of contents and on references in the body of the text or the index (in the case of changes deemed essential, it is for the originating department to deal with any subsequent changes).

The typesetting usually requires two proofs. During the first proof, the proofreader rereads the entire text, comparing it to the manuscript, checking that all elements are present and that all typographical instructions have been observed. A second proof then enables any corrections made to the first proof to be checked. No author’s corrections should be accepted at the second proof stage.

Given the timescales involved with periodicals or urgent publications, a deadline for the final draft must be met by the originating department. This requirement ensures not only that work will be delivered on time but also that last-minute author’s corrections (hence extra costs) can be avoided.

Please note that the Publications Office cannot agree to input author’s corrections without the authorising department’s formal consent.

Last updated: 28.8.2019
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