WHY DO I NEED A PROOFREADER?
Regardless of how good a writer you are, when we write our own content we often see what we expect to be on the page, as opposed to actually what’s there, which means that we often miss small mistakes! These mistakes can make us seem sloppy or unprofessional, as though we haven’t taken the time to make the writing accurate. That’s why it’s so important to get a second set of eyes.
Spelling errors can drastically change the meaning of a sentence. One of the trickier bits of modern technology is our occasionally misplaced trust in spell checkers. It’s very easy to type a word that’s technically not spelled incorrectly – it’s just not the word you mean to use at all. For example: ‘Fire wardens must wear their florescent vest.’ No squiggly lines, but it’s a lot more likely that fire wardens would wear fluorescent vests than ones covered in flowers!
AT WHAT STAGE OF A PROJECT DOES PROOFREADING COME IN?
Proofreading can come in at the end of any draft, although the more complete the project is, the better results you will get. If you give me an incomplete draft and keep working on it while I’m proofing it, it means I may have to make further changes and therefore charge extra. The quote I provide is based on a complete draft, which I will return to you expertly proofread.
WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PROOFREADING, COPYEDITING AND EDITING?
Proofreading involves a proofreader (like me!) taking to a document with a metaphorical fine-toothed comb. Proofreading involves reviewing a piece of writing and correcting every single spelling and grammatical error. Any typos, punctuation problems or inconsistencies with US vs. UK spellings will be picked up on and changed. Proofreading should be the very last part of the editorial process.
Copyediting certainly involves elements of proofreading, but the process is more extensive than that. Beyond grammar and spelling, a copyeditor will also make changes to the syntax to ensure that the content sticks to ‘good’ writing conventions. They will also track internal consistency of voice, correct formatting issues and keep an eye out for factual errors. Often I’ll do both copyediting and proofreading of a document to ensure the best results.
Editing involves the big picture and is less what I specialise in. The exact things an editor will do varies from person to person and document to document, but generally speaking, the job involves making changes to the document itself rather than individual components. This can involve anything from rewriting sections, to repurposing content in a different location within the document, to trimming overwrought sections of text.
WHAT’S INVOLVED IN PROOFREADING?
Proofreading involves checking a document’s grammar and punctuation. I ensure that there is consistency throughout word usage and formatting, and I’ll adjust paragraph structure where appropriate (e.g. splitting up long paragraphs and combining ones that are too short). I don’t make judgments about the calibre of the work, and accordingly I do not adjust ‘bad’ (only incorrect) usage. For more in-depth analysis and changes, you’ll need to enlist the help of an editor.
HOW DO I KNOW HOW MUCH IT WILL COST?
Before I can provide a quote, I need to know the length of the content and to see a sample, just so I can accurately let you know whether the document needs proofreading or editing. My estimates are based on 250 words per page; if there’s anything particular that you are looking for, do let me know. The more information you give me, the more accurate the quote can be!
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO GET SOMETHING PROOFREAD?
It depends on the project. I generally average around 24–36 pages a day (based on 250 words on a page), but I also proofread everything at least twice to ensure absolute accuracy. It will normally take me about three weeks for a 200-page book. Because I am regularly working on projects, I won’t necessarily be able to start on your project immediately but will always give you an estimated time frame. If you have a date that you need it by, let me know and I’ll do my best to accommodate you.
DO I NEED TO DO ANYTHING AFTER MY WORK HAS BEEN PROOFREAD?
Absolutely. Although you can expect that your grammar, spelling and punctuation will be accurate once I’ve proofread it, it’s important that you still read it again before submitting it to a printer, publisher or university. You may have written something a certain way for a reason that you haven’t told me about, and so it’s important to check that the text is still the way you’d like it.
I’M A STUDENT – CAN YOU CHECK MY WORK?
Of course! I can edit essays, dissertations, theses or projects in any area of study. I have a background in medical and legal libraries in particular, but I’m more than happy to deal with others.
Please send through your university’s guidelines so that I can be sure that I’m working within the bounds of what is allowed. Generally speaking, universities will only permit a pure proofread (fixing the spelling and grammar without any rewording) but it’s best for me to know exactly what the parameters are.
CAN I GET MY REFERENCING CHECKED?
You certainly can. I’m most familiar with APA, but if you’ve used another style, it’s highly likely that I can check that too. Just make sure you mention it when you’re making an enquiry, and I can let you know whether or not it’s a system I’m familiar with.