What is proofreading and why should you care?

The publishing process involves many steps and often the work of different people before the document can be set off for printing and online publication. One of those phases is the service called proofreading. In this article, you will learn what role proofreading plays and how it differs from other services.

The steps of the publishing process:

  1. language editing
  2. copyediting
  3. typesetting (known also as technical editing)
  4. proofreading
  5. XML publication (academic publishing only).

After typesetting

In the past, once typesetters had finished arranging the types, they would print each page for a final read by the publisher or author. The print used to be very expensive, therefore a checkup step was necessary before producing a large number of copies. The pages created for testing were known as proofs, hence the name of the phase – proofreading.

Today, manuscripts are typeset digitally and proofs are provided in the form of PDF files. Proofreaders may print those out and mark up physical copies or complete proofreading online. Online verification, especially in the case of academic publishing, is becoming increasingly popular, since it is faster and does not require a manual scanning. In an online environment the document can be also instantly shared between all the people working on it, making the whole process more effective.

Regardless of the form, online or manual, the proofreader’s task is to read through the text and highlight any errors in spelling, grammar, and punctuation, including:

  • consistency issues
  • broken web links
  • missing references
  • problems with captions and images
  • visual layout errors
  • the match between the index and content
  • factual inaccuracies
  • paragraphs difficult to follow or understand.

Proofreading marks and their meaning

Professional proofreaders use symbols when checking and marking up documents to inform typesetters about any necessary changes to the text. There are many symbols used for proofreading and each of them has a specific function, ¶ for example denotes a need to begin a new paragraph.

If you are proofreading yourself, you may find it difficult to work with proofreading signs. Many typesetters accept text highlights and sticky notes placed into PDFs, so make sure to consult the details ahead of the process.

Proofreading of an academic article

The difference between proofreading and editing

Most people think that proofreading and editing are the same service. There is however a big difference between these two processes.

Editing, known also as copyediting, verifies the overall structure of the paper, including the order of ideas, the transition between paragraphs, and the development of the argument. Copyediting takes place at the beginning of the publishing process and is usually performed together with language correction.

Proofreading comes at the end of the document preparation process. The service focuses on remaining errors in grammar, punctuation, and spelling that could be left after the completion of all the other activities. Proofreading looks also for mistakes that could have appeared during the technical editing phase.

Proofreading is applied on an already typeset document, whereas copyediting takes place when the paper is still in its source format. To read more about similarities and differences between those two processes, click here.

Academic proofreading

There are a few different types of proofreading, such as business or translation proofreading. The service applied to scientific papers is called academic proofreading.

University presses and publishing companies usually employ their own professional proofreaders to check such documents. While working with academics, proofreaders are  particularly careful. They do not modify the text directly, but rather highlight potential mistakes, allowing you and your managing editor to make the final decision.

Professional proofreading service

When reviewing the proofread paper make sure to address each of the comments before sending it back. In most cases, the corrected document with your remarks applied will be sent back to you for your final acceptance. When you receive it, read through it again, paying special attention to those fragments that you have previously underlined. Some documents are lengthy, and even the best typesetters and proofreaders may accidentally omit your notes when reviewing the file.

In case you do not work with a publisher, but proofread on your own, keep in mind a few things:

  • first, remember to check for any spelling or grammatical errors. These can be easily fixed with free checking tools available online;
  • look for factual errors. Verify references and make sure that all the information in the document is accurate;
  • check that the overall tone of the document is professional and appropriate;
  • ask your colleague or mentor to read through your document. Peer-reviewing usually helps to spot errors and inaccuracies that you have overlooked.
Academic proofreading at Sciendo with the use of InDesign software

If you are doubtful that you can perform proofreading by yourself, commercial professional services are here to help. These services will cost you money, but they will correct all the mistakes in your work. There are many different proofreading services available online, so it is important to choose one that best suits your needs. For instance, some services check only grammar and spelling errors, while others verify also factual inaccuracies.

Academic proofreading can be time-consuming, but it is an important step before submitting and eventually publishing. Any mistakes in writing or layout can harm the reading experience. Instead of focusing on the content, readers may focus on errors, which potentially reduces the academic impact of your paper. By taking the time, you can be confident that you are presenting the best possible work to your audience.

Professional proofreading service at Sciendo

Sciendo works with typesetters and proofreaders specialising in academic content. Our goal is to ensure that your publication is not only free of errors that could detract from its quality, but also looks good and is set for maximum recognition and increased citations.

To find out more about how we can help your publication, please fill in the contact form.

Copyediting vs. Proofreading: What You Need to Know

In this article, we are covering the similarities and differences between academic copyediting and proofreading. To read about these processes in detail click here and here.

The other steps of the production process are:
language editing
copyediting
typesetting (known also as technical editing)
proofreading
XML publication (academic publishing only).

What is copyediting and how does it differ from proofreading?

Academic publishing involves multiple types of editing, all of which refine the writing into a clear and error-free version of the record. These include:

  • developmental editing – this step helps to improve the structure and content of your work. It is typically applied early in the writing process before any copyediting or proofreading is done.
  • copyediting – checks whether the text is correct, consistent, and accurate. The process removes any inconsistencies, mistakes, and repetition, and ensures that your work meets the standards that are expected in high-quality scholarly publishing.
  • proofreading – the final quality step before publication.

Similarities between copyediting and proofreading

Copyediting and proofreading take place after the manuscript has been created. They have a similar overall goal to ensure that the published work is as good as it can be.

Editing of a finished book

Both processes involve detailed reading of a manuscript to improve the writing and remove similar types of grammatical and spelling errors. Whilst the overall objectives of copyediting and proofreading are similar, their focus and timing are not the same.

Proofreading versus copyediting

Many people think that proofreading and editing are the same service. There is however a big difference between those two procedures.

Copyediting takes place at the beginning of the production process and is usually performed together with language correction. It verifies the overall structure of the paper, including the order of ideas, the transition between paragraphs, and the development of the argument. A copyeditor will:

  • take a highly detailed look at the structure and the coherence of the content
  • tidy the work up so that the statements and ideas within it are delivered clearly to the readers.
  • ensure that manuscript is in line with the publication’s style rules.
Copyditor checking the article copy

In contrast, proofreading will:

  • remove remaining errors in grammar, punctuation, and spelling
  • verify type and format issues, and inconsistencies
  • identify mistakes that could appear during the technical editing phase.

Proofreading is applied on an already typeset document, whereas copyediting takes place when the paper is still in its source format.

Copyediting and proofreading options

When publishing, it is possible to copyedit and proofread your own work. However, this will be very time-consuming and difficult for you to do effectively. The end product may not be high impact and may not meet the standards required for academic publication.

Professional copyeditors and proofreaders are highly skilled and trained and are able to identify opportunities to significantly improve your manuscript. They usually discuss the required level of support before taking on the job to provide an accurate quote.

Making the right decision when considering copyediting and proofreading can make all the difference.

What you need to know

In simple words:

  • copyediting boosts the overall quality of writing in your manuscript
  • proofreading gives a final polish to the text readying it for publication.
Instructions for the proofreader

Both tasks are essential in academic publishing. They are typically completed by different editors, even though there are some overlapping objectives and elements. When working with these professionals, it is important to recognize this to get the best publishing result for your academic research.

You can read more about the differences between copyediting and proofreading, and the standards of professionalism with which copyeditors and proofreaders work to at the website of the Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading.

How to polish your writing style with a language editing service?

Are you looking for ways to publish your latest research results or the book you have been working on? The chances are you may be feeling overwhelmed by all the steps in the publication process. The process is complex and might be difficult, especially if you are just embarking on your journey as an author.

We have prepared a series of helpful articles to guide you through the manuscript production process. In this piece, we cover the language editing that opens up the process. To read about the other steps just click on the list below:

  1. language editing
  2. copyediting
  3. typesetting (known also as technical editing)
  4. proofreading
  5. XML publication (academic publishing only).

What exactly is language editing?

Language editing is the reading of a finished manuscript in search of any errors in spelling, grammar, and punctuation. Its main goal is to improve the clarity and quality of a document before the final publication.

Poor wording is a common reason for the rejection of papers at the submission stage. It is vital to ensure your manuscript reads well to maximise the chances of it being accepted. You may perform the editing task yourself or ask your colleague or mentor to have a second look. Others with a fresh perspective, typically spot errors and mistakes that are not obvious to authors a lot faster.

You can also try using various editing programs or ask the language editor for professional help.

The language editing software

There are many tools available online that can aid authors in the process. They just require uploading or copying of a ready document for automatic scanning. Any errors are usually underlined or highlighted for you to review them, making the editing task easier. The systems offer features such as spell and grammar checking, word choice suggestions, and sometimes also advice on style and structure. Many of these tools contain also an automated format checker which allows users to comply with academic or professional standards.

The manuscript processed by the language editing software

Language editing software can be a great, time-saving solution for achieving that polished style you are seeking. They will quickly and effortlessly identify existing errors and suggest corrections. Such tools are also a cost-effective language editing alternative, as many of those are available online for free.

Just find the tool that works best for you and ensure your research represents the highest standard before sending it to a journal or publisher.

The language editing service

Online editing tools are typically sufficient when preparing a paper for submission. The final publication may require, however, a second, more in-depth manuscript reading that can be performed only by an expert.

What can you expect from a professional language editing service? The language-checking editor will go through various aspects of the text making sure its writing style is up to the highest standards:

  • grammar – every language has a set of rules governing words, sentences, and other components. Poor grammar makes a text difficult to read, so it is vital that no errors occur in the manuscript.
  • punctuation – punctuation symbols are used to separate sentences and written elements. When errors appear the whole text may become ambiguous and its interpretation by a reader incorrect.
  • syntax – inappropriate arrangement of words in sentences and sentences in phrases disrupts the reading. The language editor will modify the order whenever necessary to increase the clarity and ensure the smooth flow of the text.
  • word usage – every manuscript has a specific goal and intended audience. Text designed for commerce is generally written in a different way than a scientific article. The language editor will make sure your research paper contains the best selection of words and suggest alternatives whenever applicable.
  • spelling – the expert will check also the text’s compliance with standard orthography and correct any misspelled words that may obscure meaning.
Language editing service provided by an expert

A professional language editor’s role is to provide feedback on the areas in the manuscript where improvements can be made. The service can aid both journal editors as well as individual authors:

  • language editing for journals – the service can save paper production time. Editors have full control over the process and authors are not required to go through the processes themselves.
  • language editing for authors – the service is invaluable for anyone who wants to submit a high-quality paper or self-publish a book

Quick tip for journal authors: before making a submission, check what is expected of you in terms of language editing. Some journals provide such a service for all accepted research papers, whereas other expect to receive an already edited manuscript. In case the first is true, you can save time and money on the professional service, and merely use free online tools to ready your paper for submission.

What is English language editing and why is it important?

English is the international language of science. Papers written in English are accessible to scientists around the world, hence most research is published in this language.

Journal editors and scientific publishers expect to receive high-quality manuscripts that can be shared with a global community and widely cited. Papers that are not up to the expected standards are usually immediately rejected.

Poor quality English remains also a common reason for the rejection of scientific publications by prestigious indexing services, such as Clarivate or Scopus. Editors and publishers that look after the best indexing coverage will also make their submission decisions based on that factor.

English language editing is a service that can help to improve manuscripts in terms of grammar, spelling, punctuation, and clarity. It is usually performed by experienced editors with an advanced understanding of the English language.

An English language editing service can significantly improve the quality of the English usage in a paper. It will ensure that your work is as good as it can be, increasing its chances to be published, read and cited.

English language editing service

Language editing services offered by Sciendo

At Sciendo we offer editing services for all of the languages we publish in: English, German, Spanish, Italian, French, and Polish. We work with journal editors and individual book authors.

Each service is available at three different levels, so that you can select the one that exactly matches  your needs and manuscript requirements.

If you select one of our Premier packages, we will always provide the most in-depth level of editing.

For English, we offer both British English and American English

Light Edit

The Light Edit is a style-focused edit that includes:

  • minimal corrections to the text beyond style and consistency points
  • citation checks
  • fundamental grammar corrections
  • we do not change the author’s voice unless major grammatical errors occur
  • a small number of queries are raised with the author.

Medium Edit

This level includes all tasks of the Light Edit and adds a thorough reading of the text for sense, style, and structure:

  • sentences are verified to ensure the tenses match consistently
  • definite and indefinite articles are checked for the correct usage
  • long, poorly worded and confusing sentences are queried with the authors
  • the total number of queries raised is higher than with the Light Edit.

Medium Edit is a suitable balance between quality and cost for most publications.

Heavy Edit

In the Heavy Edit we make corrections to the language even when the meaning is clear:

  • we correct the use of fewer/less for countable/uncountable nouns
  • predicative/attributive adjectives
  • the use of which/that
  • revise the structure and language in keeping with the author’s intent and voice
  • long or confusing sentences and paragraphs are recast to shorter ones.
  • additional attention is given to details in tables and figures to check if they match those in the text itself
  • overall, far more author queries are raised during the Heavy Edit.

Overall, this language editing service becomes invaluable if you are looking to improve your manuscript and make it ready for publication. To find out more on how we can help you and to discuss possible options, please complete the form.

What is copyediting and how to do it correctly?

Have you completed editing your paper for grammar, syntax and clarity? If the answer is « yes », then continue reading to learn about the next step of the manuscript production process. If « no », check our helpful guide on the language editing process to get you started.

If you prefer to jump directly to other articles from the manuscript production series, click on the links below:

  1. language editing
  2. copyediting
  3. typesetting (known also as technical editing)
  4. proofreading
  5. XML publication (academic publishing only).

What is copyediting?

Copyediting is the revision of the written content for accuracy, clarity, consistency, and style:

  • the process involves checking for grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors that may have been overlooked during the earlier stages of paper writing
  • verifies the facts
  • validates whether sources are properly credited
  • adds new passages if essential
  • deletes unnecessary sections
  • removes inconsistencies, mistakes, and repetitions
  • blends sentences into smoothly-flowing paragraphs.

Feedback is provided whenever the content is changed, added or removed, to ensure it is accurate and relevant to the discussed topic.

The main goal of the copyediting service is to ensure the final version of a manuscript meets designated standards of quality before being published or distributed.

The difference between copyediting and language editing

Language editing is a more thorough form of editing. It looks at the overall structure of a document and the writing style:

  • focusing on making sure the manuscript reads well
  • analyzing whether the language is appropriate for the intended audience
  • concentrating on the paper’s consistency in terms of style and terminology.

Contrariwise, copyediting concentrates on the flow of writing and formatting precision throughout the document.

Both services are essential parts of the publication process. Sometimes they are performed together to shorten the manuscript processing time.

Automated copyediting tools

If you copyedit the manuscript yourself, you can try one of the online programs available. There are many tools out there to try out, with many free of charge for the basic plan.

Copyediting tools are a great help in streamlining the process and picking up on errors that the human eye may have missed. They make tedious tasks such as spell-checking and grammar correction faster and easier. They can even offer suggestions on how to improve the content, including tips on word choice and structure.

Ultimately, automated copyediting tools are intended to help authors create more polished documents in a quick and effortless way.

Manuscript formatting

Once the editing of a paper is finished, it is time to start working on the text formatting. This step of the writing process is often time-consuming, but essential to ensure that the paper looks professional and that its style is consistent throughout.

Formatting requires attention to detail, as even minor errors make the text difficult for readers to understand. There are some basic formatting rules that authors should consider to produce an effective document:

  • use standard font type and size, such as 12-point Times New Roman or Arial
  • indent the paragraphs
  • include page numbers
  • add appropriate headings and subheadings
  • use italics for emphasis.

Text formatting before submission

Correct text formatting is even more relevant when preparing a manuscript for submission:

  • submission of an article to the journal – before you start, verify the website of your preferred academic journal checking for the instructions for authors. Such guidelines list all the text formatting requirements you are expected to follow. They are usually available directly on the journal’s page or as stand-alone documents available to download. Remember, that each journal may follow a different, unique text style. There is no easy one-fits-all solution here, so devote some extra time to familiarize yourself with each specific journal’s requirements.
  • submission of a book – many publishers possess specific formatting specifications. Discuss those in detail with the submission editor before sending your manuscript off.

Referencing styles

There are many text formats and referencing styles available. In academic publishing the most popular are:

  • MLA 
  • APA
  • Harvard
  • Chicago
  • Vancouver.

Most academic journals and publishers follow one of the above-mentioned styles. Some of them, however, prefer to apply their own, unique patterns. In case the latter is true, ask the editors if they can share their style sheet with you.

Style sheets are nothing more than exemplary documents prepared according to the formatting rules. They present how headings, bibliography and other elements should look in a finished paper.

Formatting elements important in academic publishing

There are at least a few components authors should pay attention to:

  • the style of references and bibliography
  • design of headings and numbering
  • descriptions of figures, charts and tables
  • indexes and legends
  • the format of units, dimensions, abbreviations and equations.

In the case of manuscripts destined for an academic audience, there are some distinctive additional elements such as:

  • author’s affiliation details
  • keywords
  • acknowledgements
  • ethical announcements
  • conflict of interest statements
  • ORCID numbers
  • copyright, etc.

The correct text formatting takes time and may appear overwhelming. Do take your time however as accurate editing increases the chances for any positive editorial decision. It shortens also the reviewing time, as a correctly formatted document is much easier to follow.

When to work with a professional copyediting service?

Online copyediting tools are a great help when checking manuscripts to improve clarity, spelling and grammar. They may not be sufficient, however, if you need your document properly formatted before making a submission or when its subject matter requires expert knowledge. Alternatively, you may be simply out of time to go on with the editing process on your own. In these situations, you may want to start working with an experienced copyeditor

Trained copyeditors will check your writing, remove existing errors and suggest further improvements. They will pay also attention to submission formatting, so remember to provide your copyeditor with the journal’s or publisher’s style guide.

While applying the formatting choices, the copyeditor will:

  • review the font size, typeface and margins
  • check references for accuracy and consistency
  • review whether citations have their sources provided in a document
  • verify the numbering of headings, subheadings, figures and tables
  • create or correct the table of contents, indexes and appendixes.

Copyeditors specializing in academic content will also check whether your writing follows established editorial codes and conventions. They may equally underline any potential libel issues or copyright infringements that arise.

Once all the changes are applied, copyeditors send the document back to the author to ensure their ideas come through clearly and concisely. In some cases, further rounds of revision may be necessary before any final acceptance is granted.

During the whole process, copyeditors also work closely with journal editors and publishers to ensure documents are prepared in the best way possible, making them ready for the next step in the manuscript production process – the typesetting.

Copyediting service at Sciendo

The copyediting service helps authors to make improvements to their writing by addressing a wide range of potential language and formatting issues.

At Sciendo we provide copyediting and language editing services as one package to ensure the highest standard of manuscripts. We work with all of the languages we publish in: English (both British and American English), German, Spanish, Italian, French, and Polish. We work with individual book authors as well as journal editors.

When checking the documents our editors focus on:

  • the consistency of writing
  • reviewing the status of pre-press papers
  • correcting statements conflicting with general scientific knowledge
  • verifying the inclusion of ethical policies and statements, manufacturers’ names, etc.
  • checking figures, charts, tables and equations
  • style of references, bibliography and numbering
  • analyzing indexes and headings
  • removing errors in abbreviations, legends and table captions
  • ensuring coherence of units and dimensions
  • checking compliance with specific formatting requirements, e.g. affiliation style.

Our services are provided at three different levels: Light, Medium and Expert to grant authors and editors freedom to decide what depth of editing is the most suitable for their publication.

To find out more about how we can help to improve the quality of your work, contact us by completing the form.

What is typesetting, and why is it important 

In this article, we cover another stage of the manuscript production process called typesetting. Typesetting is the process that follows copy editing and turns a paper into its final version, ready for printing and online publication.

To read about the other steps in the publishing process click on the links below:

  1. language editing
  2. copyediting
  3. typesetting (known also as technical editing)
  4. proofreading
  5. XML publication (academic publishing only).
Setting of the types for physical printing

What exactly is typesetting?

Typesetting transforms an edited and accepted manuscript into a near-final product. The word typesetting comes from the original process of physical printing. Originally, moveable letters, numbers, and symbols (type) were put in place (set) by hand, making pages ready for print. Nowadays, typesetters use digital layout software, such as InDesign and LateX to arrange text. However the typesetting method has changed over time, the principles of the process have stayed the same.

Content design

Before any publication is printed or published online, design choices are made about how the type and any other elements will look on the page and on screen. As an author, you may decide for yourself on many of these choices, while some of the other ones might be imposed by the publisher or printing house.

These design choices typically include:

  • the dimensions of pages and margins
  • font choice and sizes
  • spacing
  • details of headers and footers
  • look at other components such as quotes, tables, charts, hyperlinks, references, and bibliography.

Once the decision regarding the visual arrangement is made, the typesetter may start applying the layout to the document. While composing, additional text alterations, such as the ones listed below, often become necessary:

  • adjusting the spacing between characters
  • ensuring that blocks of text on adjacent columns end on the same row
  • changes when consecutive rows of text start or end with the same word
  • avoiding the last row of a paragraph ending at the top of a page
  • preventing the last word of a paragraph from ending on its own on a line.
Typesetting of a scientific book in inDesign software

Tools that typesetters work with

Typesetters use professional software to compose documents. There are many page layout designing programs available, but two play an especially important role in academic publishing:

  • InDesign – a leading page composing software, well-known for its advanced text setting features. InDesign is the most common selection for scientific papers, as they usually contain long passages of text and fewer graphics.
  • LaTeX – another tool widely used in the academic world. The program provides unique solutions for the setting of mathematical formulas and equations. LaTeX is the typesetter’s best choice when it comes to complex mathematical texts.

Before deciding on the software to work with, typesetters verify the characteristics of a given text to ensure the best match and final result.

Typesetting process of scientific articles at Sciendo

Professional typesetting service

If you are an academic author, you would most likely like your research to gain recognition, attract citations, and become widely read. A document that looks neat and polished has more chances to achieve that, so it might be advisable to work with a professional typesetter. Before making the decision, investigate what options and services your preferred academic publisher provides.

Why work with a professional typesetting service?

  • Experience – qualified typesetters have the know-how required to set pages most appropriately. They also take into account different text features such as the length or subject matter when selecting the software to work with. 
  • Enhanced reading – a professionally composed text is easier to read, follow and understand.
  • Professional look – a great-looking document conveys a sense of professionalism and quality, which reflects positively on its author.
  • Quality control – academic texts often contain graphs and equations which makes them more difficult to typeset. Publishers specialising in scientific content will ensure that your text is error-free and looks its best at the same time.
  • Expert knowledge – every industry has its specifics. Academic typesetters will guide you through issues such as the placement of ORCID or ISBN numbers, correct affiliation details, copyright notes, etc.

Print versus online version

Typesetting is important for all types of publications but becomes particularly significant if you prepare your manuscript for print. The print has its own requirements and set of rules that one needs to follow. You need to verify if your table of contents is accurate and if the figures and tables are listed in order, and also pay attention to bleeds and cut marks. If you plan on releasing a book, you must also remember to prepare the cover and spine correctly, and place ISBN numbers in the appropriate places.

Adjusting the document for print requires knowledge and practice, hence it is worth placing it into expert hands. A professionally typeset document will have a neater, more polished appearance once printed.

High-quality typesetting matters because content must look good to make an impact. It can give your work an edge over other submissions and also make a difference in how your text is received by potential readers, reviewers, and editors.

Typesetting services at Sciendo

Sciendo collaborates with experienced typesetters specializing in academic content, whose skill and judgment ensure the top-quality look of the finished product. We can work either with your unique design or according to our standard layout.

By principle, when typesetting we work with journal editors and book authors directly. For those journals that prefer to leave this matter to the publisher, we offer the possibility to take over the contact with authors. In the latter case, editors verify the final typeset version acknowledging its readiness for an online publication.

To find out more about how we can help to enhance your publication, please fill in the contact form.

XML files for an increased visibility


Publishing your latest research results is not an easy task. First, you need to create a coherent document, that conveys the message in a clear and understandable way. Secondly, you need to go through different editing stages to create that desired, polished style. To help you to understand what stages lie ahead of you, just click on the links below:

  1. language editing
  2. copyediting
  3. typesetting (known also as technical editing)
  4. proofreading
  5. XML publication (academic publishing only).

The whole process of manuscript production can be really time-consuming and overwhelming. Once finished, you most probably are just wishing to have your work published. Yet have you ever considered what the different publication ways are and what results they can obtain?

From traditional to modern publishing

In the past, all the content accepted for publication was printed out and distributed. Academic works were usually acquired by institutional libraries, as the print was usually too expensive for an individual user.

However, everything changed with the appearance of the Internet. Online publishing revolutionized the way publishers work, as content sharing became faster, cheaper and virtually limitless. Individuals can now access subject matter in an instant way, from anywhere on the globe.

To read more about the differences between print and online publishing, check this article.

Academic publishing today

Nowadays, an article or book must have its online counterpart available to achieve real visibility and popularity. To do that, documents are converted into electronic formats and hosted in repositories, virtual libraries and on publishing platforms. This is especially true in science, where access to the latest research results is of the utmost importance. 

Professional publishing platforms strive to develop the best technology and solutions to enhance the online reading experience. Amongst the most popular features that readers can enjoy are options such as instant content sharing, alerting service, saving the documents for a later read and downloading citation formats.

Online publication formats

Amongst the various formats used for online publications, PDF has gained so far the widest popularity. PDFs can be opened and read directly on a screen, both on a computer and on a mobile device, and also downloaded from the web for later use. Books in addition to PDFs, are released in special files readable on portable devices, such as MOBI and EPUB.

These new publication ways aim to increase the visibility and the readership of published works. However having content available online can turn out to be insufficient, as the sheer number of published documents makes promotion difficult. Publishers have started to look for methods enabling discoverability, utilizing the latest technological achievements. This is when exploring the possibilities of an XML format started.

What is an XML file?

XML (Extensible Markup Language) is a language that enables publishers to store and transport information in a structured manner. XML files differ from HTML in the sense that they are used to describe data, while HTMLs are used to display data.

The other important difference between XML and HTML lies in the tags. In HTML these are predefined, while in XML the user defines their own set of tags making XMLs extremely versatile:

  • XML documents are plain text files, while HTML documents are coded with a particular set of tags that indicate how content should be displayed in a browser
  • XML does not display the data. Instead, it stores information that can be used for many other purposes
  • XML is often used to store and organize large amounts of information, as in databases and web services.
  • XML can also act as an intermediary between different systems, allowing them to exchange information in a common format.

In short, XML is a markup language that provides structure and meaning to data, while HTML is a presentation language that displays content on web pages.

XML can be used for many different purposes:

  • storing and transporting data
  • creating templates for webpages
  • exchanging data between applications.

Its flexibility makes it an invaluable tool for developers, enabling them to efficiently interact with databases and other systems.

XML files are also much smaller than files created using traditional methods, making them ideal for use on websites or mobile applications where speed is important.

XML files in academic publishing

When the XML format entered the scientific world, content sharing and content discoverability became easier than ever before. One of the most important features of XML academic files is their ability to exchange data across multiple platforms.

Abstracting and indexing services that catalogue academic content usually expect to have the documents delivered directly to their portals. XML files allow for just that. When publishers create them for their publications, the technology automatically exports them to all third-party services where the content is to be made visible.

What is more, an XML enables better control of information flow, making sure that the shared data meets the expected standards. All the most important indexing services, such as Clarivate, Scopus, EBSCO or ProQuest, rely on the XML metadata delivered by publishers.

XML file used by academic publishers

Corrections and document management

XML files offer also a cost-effective, streamlined approach to managing documents. Whenever an error in the data appears, XML files can be easily updated or modified. Every change to existing data triggers automatic export to third-party services to ensure its correctly reflection on their side. This feature enables easier collaboration between authors, editors, publishers and indexing services across the entire publishing cycle.

JATS XML files

XML files are available in different formats; of which one has become especially significant in academic publishing: JATS format (Journal Article Tag Suite). This is an open, XML-based standard for publishing and archiving journal articles. It is widely used by major publishers, including the De Gruyter Publishing Group, of which Sciendo is a part. As a result of its widespread adoption, JATS has become the de facto standard for scholarly publications.

JATS XML files provide a consistent way to store bibliographic data about an article:

  • they include the author’s information
  • title, abstract and list of keywords
  • subject categories
  • digital object identifiers (DOIs)
  • copyright statements.

JATS XML metadata is typically requested by abstracting and indexing services that store academic content. Professional publishing platforms export the data in an automatic manner, making them available in these services for scientists from all over the world.

JATS XML files are an invaluable tool for modern scientific publishing. They not only facilitate the storage of bibliographic data but also enable researchers to access relevant information quickly and easily from anywhere in the world.

Book and article XML metadata

In academic publishing, data in an XML format is created for all articles and book chapters. There are two ways to make this happen – create XML files for all the available text, including graphics and tables, or for academic metadata only. XML metadata is usually sufficient when it comes to cooperation with indexing services, as most of them are of the abstracting type and do not include full-text versions.

XML metadata includes:

  • the document title
  • article type (if applicable, for example: review, technical paper, editorial, etc.)
  • abstract
  • DOI number
  • list of keywords
  • list of authors with their affiliations
  • cover date and publication date
  • bibliography
  • copyright information.

Full-text XML publication

In addition to metadata, many academic publishers prepare also full versions of papers in an XML format. Such a process is more time-consuming and more expensive, but having the whole paper converted into the XML format provides additional benefits:

  • documents can be read directly on the screen, without the need to download the PDF
  • XML text adjusts itself to the screens of mobile devices (whereas PDFs must be scrolled), thereby enhancing the reading experience
  • papers are searchable for via search engines (whereas PDFs are not), helping to increase the visibility of publications on the Internet.
Full-text XML publication on sciendo.com platform

Full-text XML files are becoming increasingly popular with the demand for documents available in this model constantly increasing. XML files allow publishers to store additional structural elements such as figures or tables associated with each paper. This makes them easy to find when searching through large databases or archives with thousands of articles stored in this format.

One of the biggest advantages of this language is the easiness to read the content on a mobile device. This is especially helpful when travelling. With a few clicks, a full version of an article or book chapter becomes available for reading directly on the phone or tablet.

The statistics show that journals that publish in a full-text XML version have increased usage on mobile devices. Moreover, readers more willingly return to them, knowing that their research is easily readable on their portable devices.

Full-text article XML files in indexing services

Full-text article XML files are sometimes required by abstracting and indexing services. PubMed Central, managed by the United States National Library of Medicine, is an example of just a database. Biomedical journals wishing to include their content in this service are required to submit their complete documents in XML format.

On its website, PubMed Central explains its preference with regard to XML files. According to them, XML is the most practical text format, both software- and hardware-independent, and easily adaptable to changes in technology. Existing files can be effortlessly converted to other text types in the future, in the case of different formats becoming predominant. PubMed Central underlines also that XML tagging enables smooth automatic content parsing, facilitating more advanced searching and linking to other related documents.

Benefits of XML publication

XML provides a powerful tool that can be used by developers and publishers to quickly and efficiently create and share content. Publishing in XML provides an array of benefits:

  • XML increases the visibility of documents
  • makes it easier for readers to find and read papers through search engines
  • XML tagging enables for a convenient citing of  works in other publications 
  • documents can be easily shared across different platforms allowing larger audiences to be reached
  • helps to ensure that all content is correctly displayed on any device or platform where it is viewed
  • XML files are more efficient than traditional methods of document management. They can be used in various ways such as websites or mobile applications.

XML files, especially in JATS format, are an excellent choice for academic publishing because of their versatility, time-saving properties, and their maintenance of quality standards. Having documents available in XML, authors can ensure that their content is properly organized and accessible across multiple platforms with minimal effort on their part.

XML formatting service at Sciendo

Sciendo can convert any academic document into JATS and other XML formats to increase its visibility and to ensure its correct citation. We create XML metadata for all publications on our platform. As an additional service, we prepare also full-text XML files. In the Premier package for journals, we convert all article texts into the XML format.

To find out more about our service, please complete the form.

Typesetting and Proofreading

This is the second in a series of articles on stages of the production process at Sciendo. The first article covered language editing and copy editing. This article covers the typesetting and proofreading services, which turn your polished manuscript into the final version, ready for printing and online publication. 

What is typesetting? 

Typesetting is the process that transforms an edited and accepted manuscript into a near final product. The word typesetting comes from the original process for physical printing. Originally, moveable letters, numbers, and symbols (type) were put in place (set) by hand so that pages could be printed. Nowadays we use digital layout software such as InDesign for typesetting, but the principles of typesetting are the same. 

How does typesetting work? 

For any publication, design choices are made about how the type and any other elements will look on the page and on screen. These design choices include the dimensions of pages and margins, font choice and sizes, spacing, the detail of headers and footers, as well as special features such as quotes, tables, charts, hyperlinks, references, and bibliographies. At Sciendo, we typeset either to your bespoke requirements or according to the standard layout we have designed to make documents look good. 

A typesetter works through the entire manuscript applying these design choices to it. Whilst this sounds like formatting, applying the design choices without skill leads to poor results. Typesetters use their skill, experience, and judgment to make manual adjustments. These adjustments ensure that the finished product looks good on the page, whilst still being in line with the design choices. Examples of changes made include adjusting the spacing between characters, and ensuring that blocks of text on adjacent columns end on the same row. Typesetters will also make adjustments when consecutive rows of text start or end with the same word. And they will prevent the last row of a paragraph ending at the top of a page, and the last word of a paragraph ending on its own on a line. All these extra changes ensure that your work looks as good as it can on screen and in print. 

High quality typesetting matters because content has to not only be good, but look good to make an impact. The typesetter ensures that there are no visual mistakes which would affect the reading experience. 

After typesetting 

In the past, after typesetters had arranged the type ready for printing they would print each page, known as ‘proofs’ and send them to the publisher for a final read and check before they printed a large number of copies. Hence, the phase proofreading. 

Today, after the manuscript has been typeset digitally, the typesetter creates a set of digital page proofs, most likely as PDFs. Each of these simulates the appearance of the finished printed pages. This enables a proofreader to either print out and mark up a physical copy, or to complete the proofreading online. 

What is proofreading? 

Proofreading highlights any remaining errors in spelling, grammar, and punctuation. It also focuses heavily on consistency issues such as the checking of web links and references, checking all captions and images, spotting visual layout errors, and checking the match between the index and content. Proofreading is the final read and check of the work before publication. 

During academic proofreading, proofreaders will not usually make changes directly to the proof but highlight potential mistakes, allowing the author or editor to make the final decisions on any changes. 

Why is proofreading important? 

Professional proofreading services matter because any mistakes in writing or layout can have a negative impact on the reading experience. Instead of focusing on the content, readers may focus on any mistakes, which potentially reduces the academic impact of an article. 

Typesetting and proofreading services at Sciendo 

At Sciendo, we have teams of professional and specialised typesetters and proofreaders who ensure that your publications look good, are error free, and have maximum impact. To find out more about how we can help you to enhance the impact of your publications, please contact your sales representative

Photo by Raphael Schaller on Unsplash