The unsung hero of the editing process is proofreading. Here at the Blake Archive, what we call “proofreading” has to take into account the disparate, interactive nature of the multimedia editions we publish. As a result, our interpretation of the term consists of a range of activities that are more varied than those conventionally involved in proofreading.

For example, it includes:

  • checking the transcription for typos, layout errors, etc.
  • comparing the Blake Archive transcription to those in our standard references
  • fact-checking information on pages like Work Information
  • ensuring that the paratextual elements of each edition are accurate, such as the running headers on each OVP
  • clicking on links and buttons to make sure they send the user to the right location

The second problem that we face is that proofreading duties are shared, meaning there is a potential lack of consistency in the final product. Nowhere is this more true than in the letters where the sheer volume of individual works mean that a team of proofreaders needs to be deployed each time a batch is ready for publication. In order to ensure that certain standards are met across the board, Nick created a proofreading form that functions as both a checklist of the different elements that need to be proofed and a way of recording queries that need to be double-checked.

This form has revolutionized BAND’s proofing, maximizing the speed, accuracy and consistency with which we can proof effectively as a team. Inspired, I spent the last few weeks trying to create a general proofreading form to be used for other kinds of works, based on Nick’s prototype for the letters.

However, the task was not as straightforward as I hoped, and I keep coming back to the same questions:

  • How can we create guidelines that are flexible enough to be used for different kinds of works, but still provide a level of detail that is helpful to the individual proofreader?
  • How can we create a set of proofing guidelines for a project that is continuously evolving due to the range of types of works that we publish?
  • Is our proofreading too broad a task for a single person? Perhaps we should divide it so that one person looks at the transcription, while another checks the Work Info page, and so on?

I would love to know how other projects deal with this issue.