People often aren’t sure what proofreading is, how it’s different to editing or copywriting or why they need it. I’ve compiled a list of questions I often come across that I hope will help. If there’s anything you’re unsure about that is not listed below, please get in touch.
Proofreading is usually the final check of a document before it is published or shared. The purpose is to catch any last errors that may have been missed or introduced in the editing process.
Proofreading of a book manuscript will also include a final check that all the formatting, images and pagination are correct before it goes to print.
I will check for inaccuracies and inconsistencies in spelling, punctuation and grammar. I will check that your sentences make sense and are written correctly. I will take into account your dialect preferences (UK, US, Australian) and any style guides or preferences you state.
If requested, I can check that websites and phone numbers are correct.
I also offer copy-editing in addition to proofreading, which involves checking for clarity and wordiness, and ensuring the words and tone you use are appropriate for your stated audience.
I don’t offer formatting, but I will highlight any inconsistencies in font, indentation, heading style and page numbers.
If it is a website you need proofread, I can also check that your internal and external links work. See my website packages for more information.
I don’t currently offer formatting as part of my service; however, I do check for consistency of formatting as part of a proofreading service. What does this mean? It means I check that the following are correct and consistent: font style and size, heading style, page numbers, tables, figures and indentations. However, I don’t do the actual formatting for you.
Each project is unique, so I provide quotes based on a sample of your writing and what you need me to do, e.g. proofreading or copy-editing, the length of work and timescales. My rates are £27 per hour, but the project brief and sample will determine how long each project will take to complete. My hourly rates also take into consideration administration time.
If you’re looking for a website proofread, my website packages are priced, so you can see how they fit your budget and needs.
Click here to discuss a project.
Have you ever finished writing, checked it several times, sent it and then spotted an error? Our brains don’t pick up the errors in our own writing because we read the version that is in our heads, i.e. what we expect the document to say. One way of trying to counter this effect is to make the text unfamiliar in some way: changing the font, using a read aloud function or reading backwards. A combination of these may help you spot errors, but this still requires a good understanding of English grammar, and these strategies don’t check for tone and clarity. This is where a skilled pair of eyes is needed.
In order for me to provide an accurate quote and timeline for completion of your project, I will need to see a sample of the project. For documents over 10,000 words this would be approximately 1,000 words and would usually be taken from somewhere in the middle of your document (writers tend to spend more time editing the beginning and end of their writing). For smaller documents it may be necessary to see the full project.
This sample won’t cost you anything.
Businesses often have people proofread content in-house. The benefits of this include having subject specialists who understand the document and being able to allocate work at short notice. But consider this scenario: you ask a colleague or employee to read your report through. They’re highly skilled at their job and know the subject area – great! They understand what you’ve written and can’t see any obvious errors. You’re good to go. However, they’re not objective and haven’t spotted the complicated industry-specific terms used or the inconsistencies in tone and voice in the report. Writing for the right audience is key to securing customers and building trust. This is where an objective pair of skilled eyes comes in.
Also, employees are busy. Receiving an urgent email at the end of the working day asking for someone (anyone!) to proofread a document does not fill them with joy! They don’t like proofreading and consider their time best spent doing what they were hired for. Regular requests like this can build resentment in employees.
Finally, how many of your employees are qualified proofreaders and copy-editors? Probably not many. There will be things that they are missing, and you need to consider how much this might be costing you in customers and print errors.
Freelance proofreaders can offer skill, objectivity and flexibility, as well as save you money and embarrassment.
Outsourcing your proofreading can actually save you money.
Having your staff proofread content in-house may seem efficient, but you are already paying their sick pay, annual leave, pensions, training costs, etc. Any time they spend proofreading takes them away from the work they are paid to do, possibly costing you more in the process.
It’s also worth considering the cost to you and your business of not hiring a proofreader: what if an employee makes a mistake in something that goes to print? These can cost thousands and affect your business’s reputation.
Freelance proofreaders won’t cost you these overheads and mistakes, and this is what they’re trained to do. They also love doing it!
I work with individuals and businesses of all sizes who are producing written content. Moving towards a more sustainable planet, minimising the human impact on Earth and increasing compassion are things I strongly advocate for. As such, I choose to work with businesses who feel the same way. You could be at the start of your sustainability journey, a B-Corp, a purpose-led business, or anything in between. If you’re doing something great for people or the planet I would love to work with you!
I work with a wide range of documents, depending on the project brief. Recently I have worked on websites, blogs, fiction novels, agency query letters and synopses, job proposals, social media content, journal articles, essays and theses. Other relevant documents might include annual reviews and corporate social responsibility reports.
If you don’t see your document on the list it doesn’t mean I won’t work with you. I’m always open to new projects, so please get in touch for a chat.
Usually either you or I would copy and paste the website content from all pages into a master Word document. I then make edits and leave comments without affecting any of your coding and formatting. I return a clean copy and a track changes copy for you to paste back into your website. Any links and formatting that need checking, I will do via the website. Check out my website packages and blog for more info.
It is common for errors to be introduced as you copy and paste your changes across to the website platform, so I offer a FREE final read-through of your edits once applied to your website before you click publish.
If you have different requirements, please get in touch to discuss.
I mainly use Microsoft Word and its Track Changes function. If you wish to discuss other programs, such as PDF or Pages, please get in touch.
I will check correct and consistent use of spelling and capitalisation of various places, companies, products, etc. in your document, but I do not offer a fact-checking service.
I understand that spending money on your business has to be justified, and maybe proofreading isn’t within your budget right now. Hopefully the information about my rates is helpful and reassuring. Check out my power package, which may appeal to your budget. Please get in touch to find out more. You can also find me on social media, where I sometimes share useful tips for proofreading your own writing.
Remember that your content is the shop window to your business, and customers will trust you and want to buy from you if they consider your content to be credible. Investing in your content is investing in your business.
In reverse order…
Proofreading is a level of editing. It’s usually the final check before writing is published or shared. A proofreader will check for errors and inconsistencies in grammar, spelling and punctuation. They will also check that your layout and formatting are consistent.
The next level up from proofreading is copy-editing. In addition to the things a proofreader will check, a copy-editor will make sure your sentence structures are grammatically correct and that they make sense and read clearly. They check for wordiness and that the tone of your writing is right for your audience. (Copy-editors and proofreaders often differ slightly in what they offer, so it’s important to be clear about what your project needs when discussing its brief.)
Copywriting is the first stage. This is where the content is created according to a brief. There is a clear goal, audience and structure.
For more information about editing and proofreading, here’s a link to the CIEP website.
This is guidance for those working with your content around your style and language preferences. Your style guide might include preferences for spellings, hyphenations and capitalisation. It might also consider how you format things like dates, times, quotations and numbers. Your audience and tone might be specified here too.
Some organisations have their own house style; others use well-known guides such as The Oxford Style Guide or Chicago Manual of Style. You may not have one at all. All this will be discussed as part of your brief and any style preferences you state will be adhered to as part of the proofreading process so that your content is consistent in style and tone.
© 2021 Emma Hewlett Proofreading