I mean the old-fashioned kind, the papery thing.
It may seem a tad old-school these days, when most writing is done on a computer or an electronic notebook. Why would you need a notebook and pen?
Well, one way in to the proofreading task is to make a to-do list of things you know you’ll need to look out for and may be in danger of missing or forgetting. Ask yourself, for example, what will really offend people if you don’t get it right?
Contact details, dates and proper nouns, particularly the names of people (Claire or Clare? Catherine or Kathryn? Smith or Smyth?), can be problematic. Are you writing for an English or American audience? Is it wellbeing, well-being, or well being?
These will be in addition to first impressions and anything else that strikes you immediately – questions you may not know the answer to yet and that you will need to query and clarify.
Any number of things will occur to you, so jot them down; add them to your to-do list as you go along. Going through each one systematically will help you to be consistent. Plus, working through and ticking off items in a list is very satisfying.
If you’re one of those for whom a notebook seems like a quaint anachronism, and who prefers to type everything in a separate document or on a second screen, then I salute you.
But the principle still applies. Whichever way you do it, you will probably need to take notes at some point.
For me, not only is a pen is the most instinctive and direct way of capturing thoughts as they occur, but shifting my gaze from screen to paper also gives my eyes something different to focus on, which can only be good for them.
And what about you? How do you take notes when proofreading? Do you use a paper and pen, or do you type everything? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Feel free to leave a comment in the space below.