- Medicine Information and Evidence for Policy > Information and Publications
- Medicine Access and Rational Use > Rational Use
(2005; 165 pages)
9.6 Ensuring accuracy - proof reading
Having systematic checks during the production process is crucial. For example, moving text around can result in the references being wrongly numbered. Occasionally, text can be ‘lost’ because of incomplete scrolling of the text using the software. After any changes have been made to the text or layout, it is important to print off and check the new version and not just read the article on the computer screen.
Before the article goes to the printer, it must be proof read. This involves checking the pages of the bulletin thoroughly: at least two or three times per page by one or more people who have not been involved in writing or editing. This should pick up spelling mistakes (computer spell checkers will not pick up typing errors such as ‘for times’ instead of ‘four times’), the appearance and consistency of headings, subheadings, and tables, and the appearance of the text i.e. font, bold, italic and type-size (see Box 9.2).
Box 9.2 What to check before the bulletin goes to the printer
• References are correct and cited correctly (e.g. according to Vancouver Convention)
• Reference numbers are correct
• House style
• Spellings (don’t rely on the spell-checker)
• Drug doses
• Regular parts of the bulletin that change with each issue, e.g. page numbers, headers, footers, dates.
It is worth documenting the checks (for example, by having a form or stamped box that the checker signs). This helps to ensure that no checks are missed and will also help with retracing steps to discover what went wrong in the event of a mistake (see Chapter 14 for a discussion about documentation).
Case Study: Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin (DTB), UK
DTB was started in 1962 as 4 pages every 2 weeks. In the early 1990s it changed to 8, A4-size pages once a month to save on postage costs. Each issue usually contains two or three articles. No colour is used. Articles often contain tables, but rarely illustrations.
Draft articles are prepared in Microsoft Word. During the editorial process, the article editor is responsible for critically appraising the references cited in the draft, reorganizing the draft according to house style, adding text and references if necessary, and then integrating relevant points and data arising from peer review into revised drafts. (For more information about DTB’s editorial process, see “How DTB articles are written" on the DTB web site: http://www.dtb.org.uk/dtb/content/written.html).
Checks are made at several stages. During the editorial process (while the article is being circulated to reviewers for a second time), a member of the team called the ‘verifier’, who is not the article’s editor double checks that statements in the article are supported by the cited references. The verifier also checks house style, drug doses and any other facts. Any queries are noted and passed to the article editor to resolve. The article editor gives the final version of the draft article, at roughly the required length, to the production editor, who lays it out, using PageMaker. A copy of the formatted article is printed in the office, and any necessary adjustments to the layout are made, such as shortening headlines that are too long, or moving boxed text or tables.
Several members of the editorial team, including the article editor, then read the article carefully and discuss any errors, inconsistencies or anything that is unclear. Every time changes are made, the production editor and article editor check the changes. Just before the article goes to press, reference citations, the spelling of drug names, drug doses and costs are checked once again. Finally, the whole article is read through carefully once more.
DTB is sent to the printers as a "SEP" file by ISDN (integrated services digital network) from a MAC computer, but it could be sent by FTP (file transfer protocol - a way of telling one computer to copy files to another) also. A copy of DTB is faxed to the printers too, so they know what it should look like. One hundred and forty thousand copies are printed.
Contributed by Sheema Sheikh and Andrea Tarr, DTB. [http://www.dtb.org.uk/]