The Proof Is in the Proofing System

The Proof is in – The Proofing System

There’s nothing worse than distributing the yearbook and having people point out errors in facts, name spelling or simply misspelled words — especially in headlines.

We know there’s no such thing as a “perfect” yearbook, but we also know that putting a well-planned and executed proofing system in place can go a long way to help minimize glaring errors. A couple of important considerations — make sure there is a clear understanding of the guidelines to be followed and that there is a systematic manner of checking and rechecking all the details on each spread before submitting it for printing.

Some staffs set up read-around groups for checking individual pieces of copy and coverage, in addition to also checking spreads for design details. Setting up a rubric to go around with the copy or layout can provide a helpful list of details that should be checked and provide a place to give feedback for any suggested changes.

A series of checkpoints can also be helpful. For example, all completed copy goes to the section editor, then the copy editor before going to the editor and adviser. To be most effective, this checkpoint system should involve the writer/designer so that they understand any changes that need to be made. The main goal is to have fewer errors on future assignments.

By posting sample layouts for staffers to reference, elements such as headline designs, font usage and folio styles can all be checked according to the pre-established guidelines that have been shared with the yearbook staff.

An effective final checking system for proofs ready to be returned to the printing plant was set up by the Smoky Hill High School yearbook staff in Aurora, CO. After all the proof corrections had been made, spreads were printed out and teams of staffers checked for specific details on each spread. One team checked only captions for style and content. Another team checked only folios for accuracy, style and placement. By having teams checking for only a specific detail, it helped staffers become experts in those details and resulted in fewer errors in the yearbook.

Bottom line for any successful proofing system – everyone on staff knows the system and knows to use it.

Ray Slye

Ray Slye

Sales & Marketing Consultant
Gold River, CA

“Yearbook is my life,” seems like an appropriate description – high school yearbook editor, college journalism major, publications adviser, yearbook rep and now yearbook consultant. It doesn’t get much yerdier, unless you count teaching your grandkids to read – you guessed it – with yearbooks!
Ray Slye

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