This myth fails to recognise that proofreading isn’t just about spotting typos. It's about sense and artistry too. It's about knowing when to intervene as well as when to leave well enough alone.
An indie author’s proofreading requirements are rarely the same as a publisher’s; and what I do with a PhD thesis, an undergraduate assignment, a business report, a journal article or website content will be very different things.
The majority of my proofreading work is done directly with the creators of the written materials being proofread – indie authors, students and business professionals, for example. These clients send Word files and I amend the files directly, often with Track Changes switched on so that the client can see what’s been changed, and making comments where there are problems that need to be attended to by the author.
My in-house work has often involved far more than proofreading, for example, copy-editing and liaising directly with graphic designers, marketing staff and academics. Proofreading large generic academic documents requires an overview of the processes involved and the pitfalls of future additions by different individuals.
In reality, the definition of proofreading is rather tangled and actually means very different things to different clients.