Corrections Format

Use the following method to provide corrections efficiently and accurately for projects typeset in the Well-Formed Document Workflow.


Background: Where Corrections Are Made

Supplying corrections in a clear and efficient way is an underappreciated aspect of the publishing process. In editorial stages, using Microsoft Word’s track changes and comments features, adjustments are made directly into a manuscript. When files reach production stages and authors review files “in pages,” there is a separation between where changes are listed and where the changes are applied.

Scribe has two methods of producing PDFs.

  • Typesetting using the industry standard desktop publishing, InDesign. Manuscripts are encoded as InDesign Tagged Text and imported into the typesetting program. Here, all aspects of the book are defined (page size, fonts, alignment, and so on), and typographical adjustments are made to create the PDF file.
  • ScML2PDF. In this process, the manuscript is converted to Scribe’s XML format, and this file is then output automatically by the Digital Hub to produce a template-based PDF file without further intervention by a typesetter.

In both scenarios, any changes to be made occur in a different place than the PDF that is being reviewed: either in InDesign for typesetting or in the Word or ScML file for ScML2PDF output.

To facilitate the accurate and efficient application of corrections, Scribe has developed a method for supplying the changes. In all cases, the person implementing the change uses the corrections list to find the proper location and either replace text or make the indicated formatting change.

The text will be found using find-and-replace whenever possible, with any further clarifcations about the page or location on the page supplementing the list of current text and replacement text.

These instructions refer specifically to corrections rounds during PDF production stages, but they can apply to alterations for other file types as well, such as e-books or HTML files. When providing corrections for files that do not have static pagination, indicate the file name or chapter number and use a unique string that can be found easily.

Text Corrections

Indicate text changes in the following format:

page number
current text
replacement text
[optional additional comment, in brackets]

Indicate deletions of entire lines, typography corrections, or other instructions in the following format:

page number
current text (if applicable)
[written instruction in brackets]


  • Open the PDF. The text in the PDF should be text that can be selected, copied, and pasted.
  • Copy the text to be corrected from the PDF and paste it into a Word document. Select a block of text that is long enough to represent a unique string of text. Use a full line so that a search for this text will only find the intended instance.
  • For the replacement text, paste the current text again and then apply the changes.
  • If the correction involves deleting an entire line or a different instruction, indicate this [in brackets].

Note: If the correction involves character styles, the styles can be indicated in one of three ways:

  • Compose the replacement text with the necessary character style.
  • Place style tags around the replacement text (e.g., <i></i> tags around any italic words).
  • Indicate the character style change in the bracket comments.

Application and Verification

At Scribe, any round of corrections will also be checked by a different staff member to confirm all changes have been implemented properly.

When applying corrections:

  • If using InDesign, search for the text in InDesign and replace it as indicated.
  • If using ScML2PDF, apply the changes in the source document and process to PDF. Depending on the type of correction, the source document may be the .docx file, in which case the change will be made in Word, or it may be the ScML file, in which case the change will be made using the Sublime Text program. In either case, all changes will be made in the same environment to a single point document.
  • Maintain all of the requirements of a WFDW file without introducing new errors, such as bad breaks or incorrect spacing.

When verifying corrections:

  • Use the corrections list to find the changes.
  • Note any corrections that have been applied incorrectly.

Image or Layout Corrections

If the correction involves something that is difficult to indicate using written instructions, supply the correction as either a PDF or JPEG image.

Use Adobe Acrobat’s built-in comment tools to draw lines and arrows. Include the PDF with the corrections list.

If arrows have been drawn on a printout, for example, to indicate how to move elements on a page, scan that page to create a JPEG image. Include the JPEG with the corrections list.

Note: The method of PDF creation affects the amount of customization that is possible in the PDF output. The ScML2PDF process is the fastest, most efficient way of producing PDFs, but it does have limitations for how certain elements can be presented.

If you have any questions about what types of changes can be implemented, your Scribe contact will be happy to assist you.

The Benefits of This Method

  • Providing corrections in this way eliminates issues with bad handwriting and multiple ink colors, so that the person applying the corrections does not also have to interpret them.
  • Ingesting corrections through PDF comments invites errors. Often, errors are introduced through the use of this feature. Errors include inadvertently removing text, duplicating text, adding spaces, removing spaces, and creating inconsistencies in punctuation usage. As a working methodology, it makes things more difficult for the typesetter due to the need to switch between windows to follow all suggestions as there is a mix of text changes and comments. Additionally, verifying the corrections presents the same problems: The verifier has to look up and down from the alteration to confirm that no other errors were introduced, and the verification takes place in the same technology in which the error has been introduced. The interface does not facilitate the discovery of problems.
  • When reviewing an author or proofreader’s notes, an editor does not have to indicate “stet” or cross out instructions, thus creating competing lines of thought on a written page. Instead, an editor compiling the corrections list can simply remove an unwanted instruction from the list. That way, the only corrections file the typesetter receives is a clear, approved list of changes to be applied.
  • Errors can be tracked over time. At each corrections round, a list of errors is generated. These lists can be compared to find trends and develop better processes and checklists, helping to reduce errors and establish best practices.
  • Corrections are easily verified. Lists of changes can be used to determine if a change was applied incorrectly or somehow missed.
  • Past corrections can be reviewed to confirm that changes from previous rounds are included in the current versions of files. These lists can also be used to check when changes were introduced.
  • Corrections lists enable all involved to easily find where corrections were made in the file by searching for unique strings of text. If text shifts due to the addition or deletion of content, other text corrections can still be found. If the corrections are on paper or in PDF comments, a marked correction on one printed page might end up somewhere else in the new file, adding time and effort to both the application and verification steps.
  • There is no need to print and ship materials. Not only does this reduce printing and shipping costs, but corrections can be reviewed as soon as the new PDF is ready, without having to wait for a physical shipment to be received.