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Copy preparation and proof reading

These guidelines are mostly standard proof reading practice, they will save time later and avoid costly corrections at the printers. Please read in full. 

Remember, however authoritative the source there is likely to be errors in the original copy. As a general rule check spelling, grammar, style and consistency and read for sense. You are helping the author and the School produce a quality publication so if in doubt, check it! 

You may be asked to supply or amend text for a particular section. Please remember to follow any instructions you are given regarding setting out your copy so that style and layout will be consistent throughout the publication.

LSE house style

LSE's house style is based on The Economist Style Guide (Profile Books Ltd, 2010). There is also a freely-accessible online version at Economist Style Guide|.

For full School guidance see Guidance on LSE house style and best communications practice|  [PDF].

Supplying copy to the Design Unit

Copy preparation:

  • Refer to the LSE house style (see above)
  • Don't use double spaces between sentences, they upset the proportional spacing
  • Don't use capitals for headings, use sentence case - if they are part of the design they will be converted automatically during styling up
  • Use specific tabs for columns of text or figures (rather than jumping several default tabs or inserting multiple spaces), but don't tab beginnings of paragraphs
  • Never put in returns at the end of lines, only at the end of paragraphs
  • Enclose any missing instructions in square brackets - this makes it easy to search and replace
  • In cross-referencing contents etc, when the page number is unknown type xx within a square bracket [xx]
  • Be consistent in style, use of punctuation, abbreviations and capitals etc (see house style notes). LSE house style uses The Economist Styleguide.

Before submitting to the designer:

  • Check back against original copy
  • Spell check, read for grammar, sense, style and consistency
  • Ensure that appropriate colleagues have read and approved text
  • You will also need to check proofs from 'final form print'. For publications printed in-house, this means a proof produced on the printing equipment that will be used in the final production. For externally printed publications, the printer will supply proofs. See over for advice on checking proofs


  • Supply final copy on disk or send as an email attachment in Word to the designer, plus styled hard copy, showing headings and italics for example

Checking and correcting proofs

However confident you are about the original copy, proofs still need very thorough checking.

The copy may well have been translated from a PC to an AppleMac, it has certainly been translated to a different software package and this can introduce errors. Check in particular for incorrect character substitutions, missing copy, slipped tabs in tables, transposed figures in graphs. Has any of the information become out-of-date?

All styling will have been lost during translation to the layout package and so headings, subheadings, italics, bold, bullets etc will have been re-inserted by the designer using the hard copy supplied as a guide. Mistakes may have crept in at this stage - check for accidental deletions, styling missed, copy incorrectly broken or run on.

Marking up proofs

Mark all corrections and instructions on proofs in red, very clearly.

The main requirement is that the designer is given clear and unambiguous instructions: use capital and lower case letters as appropriate, write legibly defining individual letters, write corrections in the margin in the order in which they fall on the line. Sometimes it may be clearer to spell out the correct form in full.

Mark only clear instructions and corrections on the proof - discussion and comments between colleagues should be marked on Post-it Notes and removed before passing on to the designer. Resolve any queries before returning the proof. The designer will make decisions about layout in accordance with the brief, but not about text content.

Second proof stage

Check first stage corrections have been made correctly by the designers and that making them has not resulted in new errors such as accidental deletions. Check through for anything you may have missed first time round.

The number of proofs will depend on the size and complexity of the job and the number of corrections being processed. When you can be sure that the page layout will not change, insert page numbers and check all cross-references.

Signing off proof for printing

If proofs are being signed off with some minor amendments outstanding, agree who will be responsible for checking these before the publication goes to press.

If you are proof-reading a complex publication (like the Undergraduate Prospectus).

  • Check the wording of the headings and sections are the same as those listed in the contents
  • Check brackets and quotes always open/close
  • Add up percentages - they should always total 100 per cent
  • Make sure any charts look like their percentages ie that ten per cent doesn't look smaller than eight per cent
  • Check names of departments and institutes in the contents with an authoritative source - like the most recent publication produced by LSE: names change and new centres start up
  • Read to identify any inconsistencies between the sections

Specifically for the prospectuses:

  • Make sure there are no missing blocks of text eg first year, second year
  • Keep remembering the information relates to the year of entry
  • Check quality assessments of LSE - make sure the latest ones are in, and that we haven't arrived at a date without introducing the new QA rating
  • Student accommodation - worth checking as the number of residences is expanding  

 Updated October 2012