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All You Wanted to Know about Proofreading

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Nobody likes to read an article or a blog post which contains typos or language errors. Whether it’s website content, a blog post, a college essay or simply an email to a client, you should never forget its proofreading. If you’re not proficient in this area, there are multiple proofreading services that you can hire for help. You just need to make sure that you choose to work with an individual or an agency that knows how to proofread documents or text for correctness.

Proofreading

If you’ve never hired a proofreading service before, there are a few things you’ll need to know and understand. This is to make sure you outsource the project to the right person or agency that offers value for money.

What is Proofreading?

Proofreading (also proofing) is the process of going over a piece of text to find and correct spelling mistakes, grammatical errors and other language inconsistencies. The errors in an article or an essay can range from simple to complex. It’s the responsibility of the proofreader to give the document a microscopic look and make it free from any kind of grammar or language mistakes.

Though spell-checkers can help correct some language mistakes, they can never be fully relied upon. It’s only a human eye which can review documents for correctness and accuracy. Proofreaders have a talent for quickly catching mistakes in a piece of content and fix those mistakes using the right tone and language. Sometimes, a proofreader may need to go over an article or an essay 2-3 times before the desired correctness is achieved. Proofreading is often done on the final draft. The goal of every proofreader is to make text absolutely error-free.

Common Errors – What Proofreaders Look for

Words are used to communicate, motivate and influence. Incorrect text doesn’t just fail to deliver the intended message, but it also leaves a bad impression on the audience’s minds about your personality or business. That’s why it’s crucial to use the right words and form correct sentences.

Here’s a list of common mistakes proofreaders can correct:

Choice of Words: The English language has many words that can be easily confused with each other. Often, a writer chooses an incorrect word simply because it spells or sounds the same as the correct one. For example, ‘your’ and ‘you’re’ have similar pronunciations with different meanings, and so it’s easy to use one while what you mean is actually the other. Such mistakes are quite common, but a proofreader can quickly notice and fix these.

Sentence Structures: A poorly constructed sentence can ruin the entire meaning that you desire to convey. Such structural mistakes present the writer in bad light, and it sends a signal that the writer isn’t serious. If you lack the skills or time to correct sentence constructions mistakes on your own, you should definitely seek the services of a proofreader. A proofreader can check and correct subject-verb agreement errors, sentence sprawl, run-on sentences etc.

Pronouns: There are different types of pronouns, each of which has its own use. Many writers seem to have confusion with the use of I vs me vs myself, who vs whom, each other vs one another etc. An experienced proofreader is quite well-versed with the use of pronouns and can correct such errors.

Punctuation: A comma indicates just a pause whereas a semicolon denotes a distinct separation in a sentence. Still, many writers confuse one with the other and mistake a comma for a semicolon or vice versa. Likewise, there are other punctuation mistakes like extraneous apostrophes, unnecessary quotation marks, redundant exclamation marks, hyphen vs dash etc. Highly skilled and trained in their job, proofreaders can correct all such punctuation mistakes.

Contextual Accuracy: There are different styles of writing. For example, writing an article and writing an email copy vary in terms of use of words, tone and style. Sometimes, you may also need to break some old grammar rules in a bid to be more appealing to the target audience. That’s exactly where contextual correctness comes in. Adept proofreaders also understand the varying needs of audiences, and so they can work to remove contextual errors in text.

Proofreading vs Copyediting

Proofreading and copyediting are not same. Proofreading follows after a piece of text or content has been edited. Think of proofreading as the last revision to make sure the document is absolutely error-free. For top quality proofreading, you’ll need to hire an experienced proofreader who has a sharp eye for catching spelling errors, grammatical mistakes, typos etc. A good proofreader has the capability to spot even the smallest language error in a document.

On the other hand, copyediting focuses on correcting the mistakes of a particular writing style, apart from proofreading. So, the copy editor has an additional, more important job to do, which is to lend stylistic consistency to the content of a publication or company. They carry experience working with different styles of writing such as persuasive, descriptive, narrative etc. Plus, a copy editor has sound knowledge of multiple style guides and can follow anyone of them as required as well as discover and correct factual errors in a piece of document. Overall, the copy editor is responsible for improving the accuracy, readability and the purposefulness of a text while also making sure that the text is free from any kind of errors.

Compared to the cost of hiring a proofreader, working with a copy editor is expensive because the latter has a broader set of skills.

Benefits of Hiring a Proofreading Service

Every piece of text or content must be proofread so that it is presented to the audience without any errors. Having a text proofread is ultimately about the quality of content and how much you care about readers.

Often, content writers and editors work under a lot of pressure, which makes it easy for small errors to slip in. While you may have good grammar skills, you’ll always need a second set of eyes to review it one last time. This is because catching one’s own errors is naturally difficult. Thanks to all those proofreaders who help editors with finding even the smallest language errors in a document and finally producing an article or content which is absolutely error-free.

After putting so many hours in developing content, you can’t disappoint your audience with grammatical errors or typos. Though these can be small mistakes, they’ll leave a bad taste. In fact, such mistakes will reflect badly upon your brand’s integrity as well as hurt your credibility as a writer. If you plan to build trust and create a memorable brand, you should never ignore proofreading.

The best idea is to incorporate proofreading into your overall content development process while giving your content strategy an extra edge over the competition. The money that you spend on proofreading services far outweigh the benefits that you’ll gain as a company both in present and future.

Qualities of a Good Proofreader

Proofreading is a special talent, and this job can’t be assigned to just anyone who calls himself or herself a proofreader. If you pick a poor proofreader, they’ll go over a piece of document without actually correcting all the mistakes. So, it’s crucial to work with a good proofreader who really has a keen eye for noticing and correcting even the smallest mistakes such as typos, apostrophes, comma splices etc.

You can find out whether someone is a good proofreader based on some essential qualities. These include:

Knowledge: A proofreader doesn’t have to hold a Ph.D. in English. But they have a solid grasp over the use of English language, and are aware of all the rules of English writing along with the exceptions to those rules. Proofreaders are people who have mastered the usage of English grammar over time. In fact, they are gifted with an innate ability to notice and correct errors as well as explain a specific error in the light of the proper rules of the English language.

Focus: Professional proofreaders know how to concentrate on their job. Unless the proofreader is truly focused, they won’t be able to spot multiple types of language errors in a piece of document. The proofreader’s role is to search for mistakes that the editor might have left, right from missing commas to erroneous sentence formations. They are skilled enough to pay attention to every letter, word and sentence of the written text, something which not everyone can do.

Passion for Accuracy: Most proofreaders are also perfectionists. That’s just how they are; their attention to the minutest details is also reflected in the matters of their day-to-day lives. They’ll review a piece of document or content multiple times to spot any error that was left by the editor.

Patience: Proofreading can never be done in a hurry. The proofreader requires to exercise a lot of patience while doing their job. Even more patience is needed when scouring over longer pieces of documents or a book. While proofreading a document with lots of repeated errors, it’s easy to lose patience. But an experienced proofreader is capable enough to carry on with the task despite a higher frequency of errors like run-on sentences, comma splices, confused words etc.

Don’t think of proofreaders only as grammar sheriffs. Proper proofreading requires more than just the knowledge of grammar rules. A good proofreader can spend hours with a piece of document looking for even the smallest language errors – without getting annoyed or frustrated. No matter how much knowledge of English grammar a person may have, becoming an efficient proofreader requires a lot of training and practice over time. To become a competent proofreader, one needs to possess both solid language skills and essential personal qualities.

How Much Does Proofreading Cost?

Proofreading charges vary from one type of document to another. For example, there are different rates for proofreading a translation and a monolingual document. However, there are some proofreaders who will charge a flat fee for quality-checking documents, regardless of whether it’s an essay, an academic article or business-related content. Most professional proofreaders charge on a per hour, per page or per project basis. However, it’s not always a good idea to agree to pay a proofreader by the hour because you never know actually how many hours will be needed to thoroughly check a piece of document for language errors.

The best option is to ask the proofreader how much they’ll charge for proofreading every 500 words in an article or piece of content. Usually, the rate for proofreading 500 words varies between $10 and $40. According to the Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average hourly rate for proofreaders is $15.76. But many experienced proofreaders charge up to $35 per hour. The cost of proofreading can also go up, if you’re looking for a quick turnaround time.

The proofreader will be able to quote an exact fee after having a look at the type of document at hand and the frequency of errors therein. Compared to general documents, getting a scientific, medical or legal document proofread costs more. Don’t forget to negotiate for the best deal.

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