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Books - Corrections of Copy

( Originally Published 1883 )



Extra Corrections.—The preceding pages will help to make clear to the novice the character of the printer's charge for " extra corrections," which charge generally appears, for a greater or less amount, in almost every bill rendered for book work. The printer's estimate for a piece of work should, of course, include all the expense of making the printed page agree with the copy. It would be impossible for any estimate to go farther than this, as the number of changes " made by authors is so much of an unknown quantity ; some writers scarcely altering a word, others, because of carelessness in the preparation of their MS., so adding or cancelling material, that to make the changes not infrequently costs as much as the first setting of the type.

There is no charge connected with the printing of a book so unsatisfactory to both author and printer as this one of " extra corrections," and none which is usually so easy to avoid by a little additional care in the proper preparation of the MS. before it is placed in the hands of the printer. It is very difficult to make an author comprehend how much time is required to effect changes in proof which to him may appear but trifling. For instance, a word or two eliminated from the proof, unless outer words are substituted of the same length, will require the " overrunning " of the entire paragraph corrected, and not infrequently necessitates the re-handling in the " stick " of several pages. This of course applies equally to the addition of words not in the original copy.

Again, authors sometimes conclude in reading proof that certain material will look better in smaller type than that used for the body of their work. It is, of course, evident that this change requires not only the double setting of the particular matter in question, but in addition (if the proof be in pages) the " overrunning " of all the pages made up," to permit of the desired alteration in the size of type.

These changes require time, although to the author their execution may appear a very trifling matter.

When proof is returned from the author, an assistant proof-reader examines it and notes the " changes "—if any —that are marked. These "changes "—i. e., alterations from copy—are then made by what is known as a time-hand," who reports to the foreman each day the time spent in making such corrections, this time being duly checked by the foreman by each day's proof.

Locking Up.—If the work is to be electrotyped, the pages are now placed in iron frames called " chases," and " locked up," that is, made perfectly true and secure preparatory to casting, and another proof taken. This is again compared with the author's last proof to see that all the corrections marked have been properly made, another final reading is given- it, and the forms are then sent to the foundry to be cast.

In works requiring great precision, or in those to contain an index, an additional proof is usually taken from the plates themselves and submitted to the author. Corrections can be made in these by cutting out words or letters and inserting others in their place. This, however, is necessarily expensive and should be avoided as far as possible.

Electrotyping and Stereotyping.—As this is not a treatise on book-making, it is not necessary to enter into the details of the different methods of making book-plates, but a few words as to the relative advantages of printing from type and plates will not, we think, be out of place.

If a work is issued for private circulation only, or is of such a nature that the demand for it can be estimated in advance with any degree of accuracy, then it is undesirable, and indeed useless, to incur the expense of making plates. In this case, after the author has passed upon the last proof, the type is put upon the press, the desired number of copies printed, after which the forms are broken up, and the type "distributed into the compositors' cases ready for the next work.

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