Proof reading: The risk with manual checking and what you can do to overcome this

Proof reading: The risk with manual checking and what you can do to overcome this

How many of you spotted the conscious mistake in the title of my last article on proof reading, ‘Prrof reading: What is involved’? I did it to grab your attention but actually only a few of you saw it and commented. This illustrates how easy it is for errors to be missed and why having systems to spot them is so important.  In this article, I will explain a bit more on how the brain works when reading, what proof reading technology actually does and what needs to be done when reviewers are having to do manual checks.

Reading – your brain fills in the gaps

Cna yuo raed tihs? 55 plepoe out of 100 can.
‘The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid, aoccdrnig to rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno’t mtaetr in waht oerdr the ltteres in a wrod are, the olny iproamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be in the rgh t pclae. Tihs is bcuseae the  huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.
In the paragraph above you will see the middle letters of the main words have been scrambled with only the first and last letter being in the correct place. We effectively see what we want to see, so if I am looking for the word ‘dosage’ from some source text and I see ‘doasge’ in the artwork I am not likely to notice the error.

Proof reading technology is great but is not always available

The majority of these issues are overcome with proof reading technology but the tools must be used correctly. Text comparison tools work by comparing the font character codes of each letter in the two documents and will report any of the differences found, including differences in font, bold and italics. Graphical comparison tools work by doing a pixel-to-pixel difference test.

The proof-reader’s skill is making sure all text or graphics are compared exactly and correctly resolving all the false positives the tools highlight. It is also important the proof-reader understands any limitations in the technology, for example, most tools will not be able to read text embedded in a graphic image.

Key strategies to help with doing manual checks

Regardless of what electronic proof reading tools are used, there is always an element of manual checking.  It is important you recruit the right people to do this function. Proof-readers have to be detail conscious, methodical and careful.

It sounds obvious but it is important to capture in your procedures a logical and systemic approach that assures that all elements are thoroughly checked. The people responsible must follow a procedure which identifies the area where the checks must be made (well lit, quiet, used for this purpose only), the source documents to be used, what tools and equipment are required and how to perform each check, as this will be different for text, graphics, braille etc.

There are many techniques to overcome the situation where your brain compensates and overlooks errors, for example reading text backwards. It is recommended you have a second check in your process.

In my next article, I will look at who is involved in the reviewing steps.

To help you in your Artwork Improvement Program, you can also find useful information in my book Developing and Sustaining Excellent Packaging Labelling and Artwork Capabilities


Should you have any questions about this or any other of my blogs, or would simply like to request a copy of my booklets, please don’t hesitate to contact me directly on my email.

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