BLOG SERIES: NEW IN CMOS-17: Proofreading Tools for PDFs


One new thing in the 17th edition of The Chicago Manual of Style (which just came out in September) that I found helpful is a section on tips for proofreading PDFs. Most of my editing is on Word files sent to me by authors and publishers. But I also do some proofreading for organizations that send me PDFs. I love that CMOS has included a section related to that.

2.133: Proofreading tools for PDF

The proofreading symbols and related markup developed for paper and pencil have been adapted for PDF readers by Adobe and others. The advantages of proofreading online—including searchable text and comments, typed annotations, automatic time and user stamps, no shipping costs, and quick turnaround—have influenced some publishers to incorporate PDF tools into their proofreading workflow. (Those who prefer to proofread on paper can still do so as long as they have access to a printer and are willing to transfer their marks to PDF later on.)

With PDF proofreading tools, any annotation or other markup added to a page will automatically generate a corresponding item in a separate list that identifies the annotation by type and records the name of the reviser, the date and time the annotation was entered or last revised, the page number, and the text of the annotation, if any. Tools typically include options for striking out, inserting, or replacing text, adding highlighting or underscoring, inserting notes, and drawing lines and other shapes. As on paper, such markup overlays the text, leaving the original unchanged.

It is important to avoid redundant markup (e.g., the use of one tool to draw a line through a word and a different tool to insert a correction in the same place); choose a single tool wherever possible, adding at most a virtual note to ensure that the intent of the markup is understood (e.g., “Correct spelling to ‘felicidad’ and put word in italics as shown”).

All annotations should be apparent on the page, but the list can help ensure that none are missed. Whoever is responsible for making the changes can go systematically through the document and use the available tools to mark each item in the list as corrected (or not), further annotating any of the items as needed.

Well, friends, this is the last post in my series on changes and new things in the 17th edition of The Chicago Manual of Style. But it’s not an exhaustive list.

If you have the online subscription to The Chicago Manual of Style, you can search for the word departure to find the “thousands of little edits and tweaks” in the new edition. (Quote from September’s CMOS Q&A.)

As I mentioned at the beginning of this series I haven’t found anything in the 17th edition that contradicts what’s in my Proofreading Secrets of Best-Selling Authors. If you find something, I’d love for you to let me know! But feel free to use my book as your go-to resource for “PUGS” (Punctuation, Usage, Grammar, and Spelling) as well as for tips on how best-selling authors proofread their manuscripts for typos, inconsistencies, and inaccuracies.