How to check and proofread your yearbook

Proofreading is a dirty word. Nobody wants to talk about it, and certainly nobody wants to actually do it (what exactly is a split infinitive, anyway?). Ask anybody – proofreading is not only boring, but it’s hard. Right?

Well, not exactly. When proofreading a yearbook, you don’t have to worry so much about grammar and rhetoric as you do about being mindful of what you’ve created. Think about how upset Fred would be if you set his name to Frida’s picture. It just wouldn’t be right.

Your yearbook is a time capsule that you’ll treasure for the rest of your life, so it’s important to make sure that it’s the best that it can be. You’re crafting memories here – proofreading makes sure that they’re good ones.

With that in mind, here’s my list of what to look for when proofreading your yearbook.

What to look for

  • Rogue spaces

There’s several ways this can happen. Sometimes, people accidentally tap the spacebar an extra time. Some word processing programs will mess up the spacing if you copy the text into another window.

Either  way,  double  spaces  don’t  look  good.  Make  sure  you  keep  an  eye  out  for  them.

  • Incorrect capitalisation

Every name should have a capital letter. If the person in question has “van” or “de” in their name, this may be lower case, but it’s different between people. Check again just to be sure.

Similarly, Nobody Wants To See Every Word In A Sentence Capitalised.

  • Incorrect or misspelled names

This is one of the worst offences you can find. Double check the names in your yearbook against class registers, Facebook profiles, or anything you can get your hands on.

Be wary of overzealous spellcheckers. How upset would Frida be if you spelled her name “Fridge”? It just doesn’t bear thinking about.

  • Incorrect pictures

Again, make sure the right names are paired with the right photos. If you don’t know the entire year by sight, we won’t judge you – that’s a lot of people. Appoint Photo Marshalls from each form or class; make it their responsibility to ensure that Fridge – uh, Frida – isn’t matched up with Fred’s photo.

You should also check to see if any of your photos are blurry or low quality.

  • Inappropriate content

It’s up to you to decide what’s appropriate and what isn’t.

  • Common misspellings and errant apostrophes

This is where it gets more tricky. Appoint spelling-savvy Proofreading Marshalls to check for common mistakes, like their, there, and they’re. Don’t worry too much about this one – if someone’s mispelled something, that’s part of the memory.

Which brings us to an important counterpoint: don’t sanitise people’s memories. Here’s my (short) list of what to avoid nitpicking over.

What not to look for

  • Slang

If a student or teacher has written something, that’s what they intended to write. Some people call a roll a bun. Some people call an alleyway a snicket.

The point is, don’t scrub your yearbook clean of people’s slang or made-up words. It’s all part of the time capsule that makes up a yearbook.

  • Nicknames

In the coming years, people’s nicknames may fall out of favour. It’s nice to have a record of this to look back at – and laugh at. Don’t force people to use their full names.

  • Grammar

It might not sound right to you, but, if Frida wants to sometimes split infinitives, who are you to tell her that she can’t? Just make sure that everything makes sense.

Finally, don’t forget to apply common sense to everything you proofread. Proofreading a yearbook isn’t as simple as following a laundry list of how-tos; just make sure everything feels right.