What is proof-reading?

Proof-reading is a separate activity from copy editing and should always be done afterwards as part of a final check that the text is in good order. Traditionally, proof-reading was done at galley stage, when the text was set up in type but not yet made into pages. There would then have been a final stage during which the corrections made at galley stage were checked in the page proofs.

In theory digital typesetting has meant that proof-reading is not necessary but publishers still employ proof-readers to check that the text is correct and that any corrections made by the copy editor have been correctly input. If you are self-publishing you might want to skip this, but you should check the text throughly before you pass it for printing, as it will be more expensive to make the corrections later.

The plethora of errors in printed books is the result of poor copy editing and proof-reading, and it is important to check the work systematically at each stage, to make sure that errors have been corrected and that the text is in the best possible shape. Otherwise, particularly if you are self-publishing, you risk being disappointed with your finished book.