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Proofreading

Proofreading: Brief Summary

Proofreading is the process of checking a piece of text – such as a book, article or dissertation – for errors and correcting them before it is published. These errors may include typing errors, spelling mistakes, grammatical errors or poor stylistic choices. Proofreading can be carried out by the original author, or by a dedicated proofreader, with the latter option usually being preferable for important texts or professional pieces.

A proofreader will use their own judgement, experience and expertise to carefully read through a text, or ‘proof’, and either mark or correct any errors that are present, as well as any stylistic changes they think are necessary. The focus is usually on correcting spelling, grammar and phrasing, rather than editing the content itself. Once a text has been proofread, it is usually considered to be ready for publication or submission.

Proofreading: Detailed Summary

The basic purpose of proofreading is to help to identify and correct the mistakes in a piece of text, so that the finished version is as readable as possible. Proofreading can be carried out on physical texts, or on digital ones and is essentially a quality check and tidy-up process. While the original author can carry out proofreading themselves, it is often more effective to employ an outsider to do this.

A professional proofreader is someone who specialises in proofreading and receives payment for their services. Many authors use professional proofreaders, because they are adept at spotting errors and are more likely to see the mistakes in a piece of work than the original author is. A career in proofreading often requires a degree in a relevant subject, such as English, or the passing of specific proofreading tests.

The focus of proofreading is to spot typing errors, as well as mistakes with spelling and grammar. Common things that proofreaders look for are the misuse of apostrophes, incorrect usage of commas and full stops/periods, and inconsistencies regarding tense. These are all features of text that are more difficult to spot using the spell check function on a word processor. With that said, proofreaders will also pay careful attention to basic spelling, too.

In some cases, proofreaders will check work against a specific style guide, making sure the text is in-keeping with the style in question. Style guides may be designed internally, although many already enjoy widespread popularity. Some of the most famous examples include the Chicago Manual of Style and AP Stylebook for American English, and the Oxford Guide to Style (New Hart’s Rules) for British English.

Proofreading Methods

While all proofreading involves the identification and correction of errors, there are a number of different methods that are employed in order to achieve this. Most of the methods can be carried out using a physical text, such as a print out, or digitally via a computer screen. Some of the most common methods are as follows:

Traditional – Here, the typeset version or ‘proof’ is compared line by line with a copy-edited version of a text, with the proofreader looking for any inconsistencies between the two, or any mistakes brought about through human error. The defining feature is that the proofreader works with two pieces of text simultaneously.

Blind Proofreading – With this method, the proofreader examines a piece of text on its own, and highlights any mistakes or stylistic inconsistencies contained within. The proofreader simply looks through a single piece of text and has no other text to compare it with, although they may refer to a style guide for help.

Double Reading – The key characteristic of this very thorough type of proofreading is the presence of more than one proofreader. Generally, a proofreader will go through a piece of text, much like with blind proofreading, identifying any errors. The text will then be passed to a second proofreader, who will carry out the same process.

Proof Editing – Finally, this method is employed when clients are looking for help beyond basic proofreading and actually want the text to be edited as well. In most cases, proofreaders will charge higher prices for the additional work and will have a degree of freedom to edit words and phrases beyond the correction of errors.

Proofreading Tips

1. Print the text out – It is often easier to spot errors when reading a physical copy, rather than a digital copy. For example, many students find that they notice errors in a print out of an essay, dissertation or thesis that they did not notice when reading it on a computer screen.

2. Proofread in a quiet place – Distractions are detrimental to the quality of proofreading, because a loss of focus can lead to scanning of a text, rather than a more thorough examination of it.

3. Leave time between writing and reading – If you are proofreading your own work, try to leave a gap between writing the piece and re-reading it. This will allow you to spot any mistakes more easily.

4. Look for common errors – Some mistakes are more common than others, but these can still be hard to spot if you do not actively look for them. Pay attention to words like “effect” and “affect”, “you’re” and “your”, and “there”, “they’re” and “their”, as these can often be used in the wrong place, but still missed even by proofreaders.

5. Take your time – Finally, put aside a decent period of time and go through the text slowly, using a dictionary to check spellings. A good proofreader will work through a text one line at a time, paying careful attention to each word. If you start to notice a loss of concentration, mark where you are and take a short break.

Textbroker’s Proofreading Service

At Textbroker, we recognise that even the best writers can make mistakes and they can also find it difficult to spot errors in their own work. For this reason, we provide our very own proofreading service, so that clients can have any spelling or grammar mistakes corrected before they publish their text. Our service is quick, easy to use and can help to save the hassle of having to find an external proofreading service.

After an order has been accepted, it can be sent off to be proofread by one of Textbroker’s specially approved authors. All of these authors have the highest Textbroker ranking and have completed and passed an advanced test, ensuring work will only be proofread by those with an excellent knowledge of English spelling, grammar and style choices. As with orders for articles, prices for proofreading are calculated based on the number of words.

Conclusion

Proofreading is the process of reading through a piece of text and looking for any spelling, grammar or stylistic errors, so that they can be corrected before final publication or submission. It is an important process for improving the overall quality and readability of a text and is often carried out by a professional proofreader. Textbroker offers its own proofreading service, where texts are proofread by authors who have completed a proofreading test.


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