My first job after college was as a proofreader for a book publisher. This was in the 1980s, and although computers were already in widespread use for book publishing, their use was not yet universal, and they weren’t nearly as sophisticated as today. It was still important for proofreaders to read galleys or pages not only against the author’s typescript, but also against a set of compositor’s (typesetter’s) specifications, to make sure the body, headings, running heads, captions, etc. were formatted consistently and correctly.
Specifications, as I remember, read something like today’s descriptions of styles in Microsoft Word or other word processing or desktop publishing software, eg, “Body: Times 10/12, first line indent 18pt, ragged right, extra 12pt after paragraph” and so on. To each style, in other words, was a short paragraph describing it fully. The proofreader–using a point ruler, a sharp eye, and little else-- could make sure the typesetter had set everything correctly.
I did the job for a year or two, enjoyed it, and then moved on to other things. Now I’d like to see an example of these old specs (at my job they were simply typed up in-house on standard paper and stapled together, nothing fancy, a different set for every book). But the craft they describe is so out of date that I can’t find anything online. Before I invade my local university library I thought I’d ask here. Any veteran proofreaders, editors, compositors etc. among the Dopers, who would have access to any old specs? Know where I can find any online?
Thanks in advance, y’all.