There is often confusion about what proofreading means and the words that are used to describe it. Clients sometimes ask for editing when what they really need is proofreading, or request proofreading when it’s clear to me that the text should be copy-edited first.
The true definition of proofreading relates to the checks and corrections that are carried out on a text that has already been edited and copy-edited and is virtually ready for publication. Many of my clients haven’t had their work copy-edited before they send it to me, though, so I offer to copy-edit the text and then proofread it later once they have made further changes, or I can do these two processes at the same time (a proof-edit).
To help you decide whether you need ‘just’ proofreading or whether you need copy-editin instead or in addition, I’ve defined what is included below.
Proofreading includes the following:
- identifying and correcting spelling, grammatical, punctuation and typographical (e.g. the use of italics and bold) errors. This can include rewording part of a sentence or a whole sentence using track changes. If the text is confusing and very unclear I will make a note saying something like, ‘Do you mean “xxx”?’
- identifying the incorrect use of a word, i.e. it is not the right word, and suggesting alternatives
- identifying inconsistency of style (e.g. hyphenation, capitalisation, abbreviations, quotation marks, treatment of numbers and dates, etc.) and making any minor corrections necessary. If there are major and/or numerous inconsistencies then notes will be made for you, with suggestions for making the style consistent. All consistencies can be dealt with if you ask me to copy-edit your text for you
- checking that the headings and subheadings are consistent in terms of font size and capitalisation and noting where this is not the case; checking that any numbering is sequential and/or that the hierarchy of headings seems logical
- identifying erroneous font changes
- noting minor errors in the punctuation and/or format of in-text citations and correcting them (but if significant amendments are needed to comply with the required style, I will make detailed notes about what needs amending so that you can amend the citations)
- identifying incorrect punctuation and/or other errors in quotations in case these are your errors (but quotations should appear as they do in the original)
- checking translations/transcriptions of any interviewees’ words for any obvious typing errors or punctuation that is wrong. Usually, authors want these words left alone to reflect exactly what was said and how it was said. This is a sensitive area and it would be up to you to check whether or not the suggestions reflect what was said, how it was said and any nuances you feel need showing/emphasising. Grammatical mistakes, for example, that have been made by the interviewee should be left untouched as long as the text is understandable
- proofreading tables and figures; checking whether any numbering of the tables and figures is sequential and whether there is consistency in terms of font type and capitalisation in headings, captions and within tables and figures and making notes regarding any inconsistency; checking the alignment of items in columns in tables and noting where they are not aligned.
If you think that you would benefit from my proofreading skills then please get in touch here
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