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A corrector ( Latin corrector , ' corrector ') is a person who checks print templates with regard to spelling , grammar , typography , style , punctuation, factual and sometimes also content correctness and marks errors for correction. The work of a proofreader or the result of the same and also the department of a publishing house or similar formed by proofreaders. is called proofreading .

job profile

From an organizational point of view , the proofreader is part of the typesetting , not of the editing department . His job is called proofreading . A good proofreader not only corrects mistakes, but also checks the text formally. Most of the time, proofreaders also read prints from the actual printing press. This final test is called a revision .

If the proofreader corrects a print template on paper, he uses traditional correction symbols , which are intended to make optimal use of the free space on the page and to avoid misunderstandings. The typesetter then carried out the corrections .

The proofreader used to be the last person to review the manuscript before it went to press. As an independent position in the printing or publishing business, the proofreader has now become rare, as many authors subject their texts to a spell check with the computer and sometimes deliver them ready for printing. The manuscript as an intermediate stage has mostly been omitted. The final editor took on an important role today . In the newspaper sector, an attempt is made to do the proofreading tasks by proofreading within the editorial team. In book production, proofreading is often done by editors (→ proofreading ).

In the case of non-publisher-related printed matter ( commercial jobs ), a qualified typesetter , media designer or clerk in the printing company often takes on this role.

In the times of lead typesetting, it was often common for skilled typesetters to work as proofreaders, so to speak, as retired people during their professional years. Proofreaders often work as one-man entrepreneurs or in specialized companies with few employees, or are full-time editors.


The proofreading profession was once highly regarded and a lucrative source of income for scribes. His position resulted from the great effort that resulted from the subsequent correction of the template set in lead letters . The diligence of his work could save a fortune - or it could cost him a fortune if he didn't exercise it or made conspicuous careless mistakes while reading letters.

The fact that only a few were actually able to read and write contributed to its outstanding position at the time. Furthermore, even some authors wrote the words as they sounded to their ears for a long time. The first proofreaders of the old printers were scholars who, in addition to the foreign languages Greek and Latin, were also well versed in the sciences common at the time: medicine , theology and philosophy .

With the change in typesetting technology, the subsequent expenditure for correction errors decreased and with it the importance of the proofreader for book printing. As a result of the standardization of the language, literacy spread among the population, whereupon it no longer seemed to be anything special to be able to “really German”.


Nowadays many people believe that the original function of proofreading can be replaced by computer programs for grammar and spelling checking. The tolerance or indifference to printing errors, even in prominent places, has also increased: The Reclam publishing house, for example, presents its current edition of Homer's Iliad on the first page in a “translation” and that of the Odyssey in a “translation” Computer programs are only based on electronic ones Word and term catalogs ( dictionary ) are able to check a text for formal errors (spelling, punctuation, simple grammatical constructions) to a certain extent. Therefore, the profession of proofreader will not disappear entirely in the long run.

The few proofreaders who still practice this profession today have the same tasks as the proofreaders of earlier times. Perfect knowledge of German spelling and syntax is absolutely essential. In technical engineering , all work must be explained in the proofreading , from manuscript processing to sheet revision . Proofreading from a manuscript and proofreading of text from data transfer in the mother tongue and in the foreign language should be able to be carried out as error-free as the revision of a commercial print , a newspaper page or the sheet of a work.

Student work

In the area of ​​student work, e.g. B. in the preparation of bachelor's or master's theses, the involvement of professional proofreading services has increased in recent years, while university lecturers complain about a loss of competence of students in this area. Against the background of this discussion, it must be taken into account that commercial providers of proofreading services for students partly share the classic definition of proofreading (see above) in the sense of an explicit exclusion of content reviews, while others advertise precisely this service as so-called " scientific proofreading ". The provision of independent academic achievements by students appears questionable in connection with the commissioning of such academic editing.

Proofreaders in Switzerland

In the past, technically talented hand setters (typesetters) often trained as machine setters in the Swiss printing industry. Typesetters with a graphic flair exercised the function of graphic artist in the office , and linguistically gifted professionals acted as proofreaders. The Swiss Typographers submitted it in 1946, in charge of the apprentice system of the printing industry in Switzerland Central Commission a report drawn up by the corrector club design a teaching and examination regulations for proofreaders. A year later, the workers 'organizations and the employers' association decided that regulations on the training and testing of proofreaders should be drawn up and entrusted this work to the central commission, which later became the joint vocational training center (PBS).

The first aptitude test in German-speaking Switzerland was carried out on Sunday, February 8, 1948 (for colleagues from the French-speaking area a year later) because at that time work still had to be done on Saturday and to avoid loss of wages. However, four of the eleven candidates overestimated their knowledge of German. 25 men initially took part in the first course, in which the monthly tasks of German, foreign language (French or English) and theory had to be solved. Gradually, eleven candidates refrained from continuing the course, mostly for reasons of time. A few months after the end of the course, the first proofreading examination took place, which eight former course participants took. Seven candidates were finally able to receive the ID that confirmed that they were certified proofreaders . From the second course onwards, two months were available to answer the exercise letters.

The number of those willing to learn increased. 73 candidates wanted to be admitted to the aptitude test for the correspondence course, which began in the spring of 1961. In view of this rush and the fact that only about 35 training positions could be offered with the available capacities, the central commission decided on a numerus clausus . According to the newly defined admission requirements, three years of assistantship had to be completed before the course started with a four-year apprenticeship. Also in 1961, the all-day final exam was carried out for the first time on a Saturday, because in the meantime large parts of the book printing industry only had to work on five days. In the years that followed, there was not always the same willingness to invest around two hours a day in further training for two years. The course for Romansh Switzerland could not even be held due to a lack of participants. At the beginning of the 1970s, the regulations were changed in such a way that, under certain conditions , proofreaders without a typesetting apprenticeship could also be admitted to the course. It was noticed that women also wanted to be trained in this profession.

The two-day professional examination , which is carried out under the supervision of the Federal Office for Professional Education and Technology , is generally admitted today to anyone who has a certificate of proficiency for a pre-press occupation or another occupation in the graphics industry or who has completed the PBS correspondence course or an equivalent course . People who are at least 22 years old and who can prove one year of full-time practice as a proofreader and at least equivalent linguistic and technical training as offered by the corrector correspondence course are also admitted to the examination, or if they have at least three years of practical experience as a proofreader prove full working hours . Passing the professional examination entitles you to designate yourself as a proofreader with a federal certificate .


  • Werner Kreutzmann: The practice of proofreading. Publishing house for books and libraries, Leipzig 1957, 206 pp.
  • Werner P. Heyd: The proofreader. Verlag Documentation, Munich-Pullach 1971, 84 pages, ISBN 3-7940-8824-7
  • Dieter and Miltschin Nadolski, Arkadi Emanuilowitsch: Proofreading and editing specialist literature. Fachbuchverlag, Leipzig 1979, 208 pp.
  • Otto Ellguth: The proofreader . Fachbuchverlag, Leipzig 1980, 144 pp.
  • Herbert Gall: Deleature. Suhrkamp-Verlag, Frankfurt a. M. 1980, ISBN 3-518-37139-8
  • Gill Davies: Profession: Lecturer. Hardt & Wörner, Friedrichsdorf 1995, ISBN 3-930120-07-0

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. a b Homer: Iliad. Translation [sic], afterword and register by Roland Hampe, Reclam, Stuttgart 2015. ISBN 978-3-15-000249-0 .
  2. Lena Greiner: UNIVERSITIES: “The level is sinking” . In: Der Spiegel . No. 40 , 2012 ( online ).