proof (editing)


This excerpt from the U.S. Government Printing Office Style Manual lists common proofreader's marks. The entire document is available as a pdf at GPO Style Manual (2008).


A trial sheet of printed material made to be checked and corrected before a text is published. Also called a page proof or proof sheet.

"In proofreading parlance," says The Chicago Manual of Style (2010), "copy refers to the edited manuscript. Proofs should be checked against the version of the manuscript that contains the author's final changes and responses to queries."

For information about argumentative proof, see proof (rhetoric).

See the observations below. Also see:

From the Latin, "prove"


  • "Working alone on your word processor, you'll print out several versions of your manuscript, and your copy editor may print out another version that displays her editing. These are manuscripts, not proof. Proof stages exist only when the publisher sends your manuscript for typesetting. Typesetting is computerized, and will most likely be done from the same computer file from which you printed out your drafts at home. But only now, when the copyedited text is formatted according to the design and layout, will a version of your words exist in proof stage."
    (William Germano, Getting It Published. University of Chicago Press, 2008)
  • Galley Proof
    "'Galley proof' originally was the name for a typeset copy of a document used to permit correction of errors before the type was made up in pages; its name comes from the galley, a tray for holding composed type. With computerized typesetting, the term is also used as a synonym for 'page proof' that shows how the made-up pages will appear.

    "Checking galley proof is an important step in the publication process. Take it seriously, and give the galley the attention and care it deserves."
    (Robert Matthews, Successful Scientific Writing: A Step-by-Step Guide. Cambridge University Press, 2008)
  • Copy Editing and Proofreading
    "Proofreading differs from copy editing by the stage at which it will be done, its purpose, and the placement of the marks (Rude, 1991). In essence, copy editing is done early; it moves the manuscript from a keyboarded document to a typeset document, and it prepares the text for printing. Conversely, proofreading is done late and verifies that the text has been printed according to the specifications of both the journal and the author(s). Your final job on this path to publication is to proofread this proof document for mistakes and to provide the editor and printer with a final set of corrections before the document is sent to press. . . .

    "No changes other than the correction of errors should be made at the stage of proofreading. Proofreading is not revising, reviewing, and editing. It is correction of errors only."
    (Richard J. Gladon, et al., Getting Published in the Life Sciences. Wiley-Blackwell, 2011)
  • Correcting Proof
    - "Write corrections clearly in the margin by the line to which they refer, in the same left-to-right sequence as they occur there. . . . Mark the precise point in the proof text where the change is required. Circle all words added to the proof that are not to be printed. If you find a major problem (particularly one that affects pagination), or you are unsure how to correct something, contact the editor or publisher before spending time making extensive corrections."
    (The Oxford Style Manual, ed. by R.M. Ritter. Oxford University Press, 2003)

    - "All corrections must be written clearly (such that they can be spotted at a glance) in upper- and lowercase letters. Red proof markings are often preferred for visibility, but any color will do as long as the proofreader's corrections are distinct from any made by the publisher or typesetter. . . . Messy corrections may lead to further errors; indistinct corrections may be overlooked.."
    (The Chicago Manual of Style, 16th ed. The University of Chicago Press, 2010)


Also Known As: proof sheet, page proof,