How long should you allow for annual report proofreading?

Annual reporting season is almost upon us! Yes, it’s that happy time of year when listed companies, government and not-for-profits indulge in a type of controlled panic, knowing they must prepare and publish comprehensive summaries of the past year’s financial performance for their shareholders. An important step in the production of an annual report is the proofreading process

Does my annual report really need proofreading?

Of all the many kinds of business communication, the annual report is perhaps the most important and the most widely anticipated.

It’s absolutely essential that such an important public-facing document is supremely well proofread. After all, it will be perused by a wide audience including stakeholders, shareholders, the media and the general public. 

Don’t make a poor impression and risk looking unprofessional by skimping on the proofreading process. Consider professional proofreading as an investment in preserving your business reputation.

Timings

Now that you’re convinced of the importance of proofreading, how much time should you allow for this meticulous review of one of your most important business documents?

In an ideal world:

As much time as possible.

In reality:

Assuming the report is 120 pages long, then you should allow 3-4 business days per round of proofreading by a professional proofreader. It is always better to err on the side of caution and add in a time buffer.

What factors affect the time it takes to proofread an annual report?

The length of the annual report is the most obvious factor. The more pages there are, the longer it takes to proofread.

However, you also need to take into account the complexity of the content. Are the pages text dense? How many pages of the report are devoted to financial reporting? 

If your business requires compliance with a house style guide then an expert proofreader will take particular care in ensuring that your document meets all the specific requirements of this standard. This too can have an effect on the time proofreading takes.

The format of the annual report document will also make a difference. In general, Word documents are easier to proofread and mark-up than PDF documents.

If your annual report is the result of a number of contributors it may take longer to proofread. The professional proof reader will need to ensure that, despite the report containing content from various sources, it reads with one ‘voice’. This includes checking for consistency in how processes, policies, and titles are referred to or styled, for example.  

Whilst most of these factors won’t in themselves add significantly to the timeframe, they will have a collective impact so it’s a good idea to bear them in mind.

How many rounds of proofreading are required?

A professional proof reader will always advise at least two rounds. The first is conducted once a complete draft annual report has been put together. A second review is then undertaken after typesetting of the annual report by your graphic designer.

In our experience, there is great value in this two-round approach as a professional proofreader will create many hundreds of markups in a standard annual report. These could relate to spelling, syntax, grammar, heading hierarchy, spacing, inconsistencies in bullet point or footnote style, irregularities in the table of contents, and a great deal more. 

In the rush for your team to review the proofread version and make it ready for formal layout, mark-ups can be missed and may find their way into the typeset version – posing the very real risk that they will appear in the final, publicly available version. Hence why a second proofread of the typeset annual report is always recommended.

How you can help a smooth proofreading process for your annual report

Most annual reports will be slated for publication a month or two after the end of the financial year. Professional proofreading slots go like hot cakes, so it makes sense to contact your expert proofreader and book in early, otherwise you risk missing out . 

As far as is practical, make sure to provide your professional proofreader with a ‘clean’ copy of your annual report. Proofreading is always made more difficult if the proofreader has to navigate existing markups. These are distracting and make it harder for the proofreader to do a thorough job, so beginning with a clean slate is always the preferred option.

Even if you don’t have a definitive house style guide, you can still provide your proofreader with some direction regarding the styling of terms. For example, if you prefer ‘employees’ to ‘staff’ or ‘clients’ to ‘customers’. Even these seemingly minor preferences can save the professional proofreader time by avoiding unnecessary markups.

Where to go for professional proofreading help

The Proof Communications team of expert proofreaders has been proofreading the annual reports some of Australia’s most well-known companies for decades. We’d be more than happy to have a chat with you about how we can make a difference to your business through our professional proofreading services. So get in touchtoday or give us a call on 02 8036 5532 or 0448 566 377 and we’ll assist in any way we can.

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