Advanced Proofreading

esa 2020

Proofreading is a far more demanding job than simply reading the words on the page. The proofreader needs a practical knowledge of typographic design and layout, a keen understanding of how readers navigate the page spread, the ability to manipulate text, and the skill to function as the ‘safety net’ for the copy-editor. This advanced workshop explores reading and interpreting words and images in print to produce a finished book that serves the author’s message, meets the reader’s needs and pleases the eye.

Because the workshop focuses on editorial decision-making rather than a particular method of markup, exercises are presented on paper. BSI symbols are available, and can (but need not) be used in the classroom; in-company working practice is taken account of in the course content.

Who is it for?

Editorial staff working in-house in academic or trade non-fiction publishing, whether proofreading themselves or briefing and managing freelancers. You will have at least a year’s experience of copy-editing and proofreading, and will already have a good grounding in editorial decision-making. The skills are transferable to all working practices, print and digital.


What will you achieve?

On completing the course you will know how to:

  • plan a book-length proofread and carry it out thoroughly
  • decide what to change and what to leave alone
  • carry out effective checking and cross-checking
  • interrogate the design and layout, and improve the interplay of images and text
  • work with the indexer and other publishing colleagues to finish the book to a high standard


What proofreaders do. In discussion, we frame a perspective on the proofreader’s role and summarise a list of key responsibilities.

From script to book: typographic design. The proofreader needs a working knowledge of typographic design and layout to collaborate with the designer to create a readable and aesthetically pleasing end product.

Images on the page: integrating pictures and captions. Whether pictures and other graphics are informational, aesthetic, or merely decorative, they must work in symbiosis with the text. The session covers every aspect of this relationship.

Copy-fitting. Every proof presents instances of overmatter – whether whole paragraphs or troublesome single lines – and in some cases excess space must be dealt with. This session explores techniques for dealing with copy that does not fit the page.

Checking and cross-checking.  At the final stage, the proofreader is responsible for ensuring that the book ‘adds up’ in every respect, from cross-referencing to factual content and presentation. These checks involve a separate technique from reading the words on the page.

Planning a proofread. Now that we have experienced the demanding range of the proofreader’s responsibilities, we look at analysis and planning, to make sure that every process is carried out in the right order and nothing is done twice.

Finishing off the job. At proof stage, the schedule may be tight and there are lots of tasks to tie up. In a short session, we look at the final stages of editorial production – in particular, the index – and summarise the needs of colleagues in the publishing process.

How the course is delivered

The course is delivered as a one-day workshop, in person, on the company’s premises, customised to meet the company’s training objectives, and using texts appropriate to its publishing programme. You will learn through working a range of specially prepared exercises, small-group and plenary discussion, and question-and-answer sessions, guided and supported by the tutor. The course content is summarised in a series of short handouts and examples, circulated electronically afterwards, for future use and adaptation without restriction.

Any information to be completed beforehand will be sent via email.


Please contact us at with any accessibility or special requirements, for example having in-session captions or the learning materials sent to you in advance.

If you have any concerns about technical requirements or access please contact us on  or telephone (+44) 020 8874 2718.

About the tutor

Rosemary RobertsRosemary Roberts' first job was as an editor on Grove’s Dictionaries of Music, which launched her career in academic and reference publishing. After four years as a lecturer in publishing at Oxford Brookes University, she became chief copy-editor of the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography – for which, in 2005, she was awarded an MBE. She became managing editor at Thames & Hudson in 2007, where she gained experience of trade publishing.

She now works as a freelance editor, and as a teacher of copy-editing, proofreading and freelance management for PTC and corporate clients.

How to book

Please contact us at courses@publishing to request an in-company quote

Course format

In-person only, one full working day, including breaks