Editorial Services Guide
By The Bay Area Editors' Forum

Manuscript Preparation and Design


Stages of Publishing: Production
Traditional Stages Digital Technology's Impacts

At this stage, a project or production editor or a copy chief oversees implementation of the plans laid in the manuscript preparation and design stages. Once the manuscript is typeset or formatted according to the specs, a proofreader reads the proofs against the manuscript and marks text, art, and format corrections; the typesetter (and the illustrator, if applicable) or printer makes the corrections; and those corrections are again proofed. The cycle is repeated until every correction has been made and checked. The schedule and budget may limit the number and kinds of corrections that may be made; proofs are traditionally made using any of various mechanical techniques (depending on whether the material is in the galley, page, or film stage). The later the stage, the more expensive the proofs.

It is standard practice to use a different proofreader--a fresh set of eyes--at each stage. Publishers generally expect a proofreader's work to result in ninety to ninety-five percent accuracy, although this expectation varies depending on the condition of the copy at the previous stage. Where complete accuracy is of paramount importance, such as on a cover or in the tables in an annual report, extra proofreaders may be called upon either to proofread or to read the proofs "cold" or "blind"--that is, to read them without checking against the previous version.


The production stage may require the following kinds of editorial expertise:

A photo researcher, acquisitions editor, developmental editor, author, or others may review the proofs as well.

Other participants at this stage may include illustrators, a dummier (a designer who produces a mock-up of the layout for each page), a subject expert or foreign language reader, and the art director.

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Desktop typesetting programs, such as QuarkXPress, make it easier for publishers to bypass galleys and go straight to page proof. Current authoring programs for CD-ROMs and online publications also help compress production, but their text-handling capabilities generally are not yet as powerful as those of typesetting programs.

Specialized software can help automate the creation of elements such as tables of contents and bibliographies. Indexing software--by automating alphabetizing, formatting, and other functions--frees an indexer to concentrate on providing readers with efficient subject access. Embedded indexing (performed on electronic files in a page layout program such as FrameMaker) embeds index entries at the point in the text to which they refer, allowing indexing to begin before page breaks are fixed. Indexers using dedicated indexing software (such as Cindex or Macrex) work from page proofs and cannot begin indexing before page breaks are fixed. However, because dedicated indexing software supports the methods of intellectual analysis that professional indexers use, it makes indexing less time consuming; embedded indexing is ordinarily only used for continually updated computer documentation.

Printing technology now allows publishers to go straight from disk to film, eliminating a step in which errors can be introduced.

Alpha and beta testing of software titles and Web sites may take place at this stage. Software titles and Web sites are not copyedited until the production stage.



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