How the HowStuffWorks Book Works 2001

Getting the Words Just Right

Copy-editing and proofing is a two- or three-phase process in which people go over the text, cleaning up mistakes in grammar, spelling and style. Cindy, Kitty and Katherine did this work. It takes a certain stamina to go over hundreds of pages of text with a fine-tooth comb like that.

Copy-edited pages of "How Airplanes Work"

Obviously, it's a little too daunting to think about working through the entire book in one sitting. With over 300 pages, that would be quite a job. To best handle the work-flow, things were done in batches. There were three batches to work with, and at any given moment everyone was working on at least one batch, if not two at a time. Charles and Rick might have been reworking the photos in batch two, while Cynthia was finishing up the layout for batch three. At the same time, Cindy, Kitty and Katherine might have been working on the proofing and editing of batch one and two.

Here you can see Kitty's, Cindy's and Katherine's comments.

Kitty went through the pages, marked typos and then sent the batch to Cindy. Cindy quickly went through the pages, making comments along the way, and then mailed the batch to Katherine. Katherine read through the articles, checking Kitty's and Cindy's corrections and comments and adding her own.

Notice all the Post-It flags -- these are all large corrections that had to be run past Marshall before they could be made. This is from the first pass of Chapter One.

Once Katherine finished going through all the pages, she met with Cynthia to go over them and Cynthia made the adjustments using Quark. Batch by batch, the words and art were trimmed or stretched, moved here and there until it truly started to come together and look like a real book!