Proofreaders - do we need 'em?

It’s the million dollar question: in an age of computers, why do writers need human proofreaders?

Well that’s easy. There are LOTS of things that automated grammar- and spell-checkers don’t detect, which could potentially leave you red-faced. 

Most common examples are:

  • Misuse of homonyms and homophones (their, there / pear, pair / bough, bow)
  • Misspelled proper nouns (Rachel, Rachael / John, Jon)
  • Words which are spelled correctly but used in the wrong context
  • Facts, figures, dates and other references which may need verification

The other important thing that automation fails to give you, is passion. Computers don’t care about your writing. Computers can't talk to you about how you want your words to sound. They don’t see the amount of blood, sweat and tears you’ve invested, the sleepless nights, the frustration, the pride and joy. They just don’t. I do. 

When you have been working extensively on a piece of written work, your brain starts to 
see what you think you’ve written, so I am your fresh (human) eyes. 

The poem “Candidate for a Pullet Surprise”, was written in 1991. If you read it out loud, the message makes perfect sense, but the words are a sea of mistakes. Copy and paste it into your writing app and you'll see that your trusty old spell-checker picks up. Nothing. I rest my case.

Eye halve a spelling checker
It came with my pea sea.
It plainly marks four my revue,
Miss steaks eye kin knot sea.
Eye strike a quay and type a word,
And weight for it to say
Weather eye yam wrong oar write,
It shows me strait a weigh.
As soon as a mist ache is maid,
It nose bee fore two long
And eye can put the error rite,
Its rare lea ever wrong.
Eye have run this poem threw it,
I am shore your pleased to no.
Its letter perfect awl the way,
My checker told me sew.

Jerrold H. Zar

Proofreading -

Proofreading is far more involved than most people think. A full proofread is the final stage quality control, before you release your writing into the world. At this point it’s essential that your work has been polished to within an inch of its life. During a proofread, I will do the following:

  • ensure correct grammar, punctuation and spelling throughout
  • check for incorrect or over-use of capitals and hyphens
  • ensure consistent and correct use of en/em rules and ellipses
  • pick up pronouns with missing antecedents
  • check for consistent and correct use of punctuation within dialogue
  • check consistency of default and nested quotation marks
  • check that all names and dates are correct
  • double-check references to facts, quotes, people, real events, legal issues etc.
  • ensure consistent formatting of headings, bulleted lists, etc.
  • look for inconsistencies in chapter sequence, page numbering, spacing and text alignment
PLEASE NOTE: Many proofreading projects would also benefit from some light copy-edits. If I feel this is the case for your project, I will contact you to discuss the fee prior to starting work.

Proofreading is carried out using MS Word Track Changes or PDF annotations.

I can also proofread on hard copy using British Standard proofreading marks.

I will return two copies of your project: one showing mark-ups and one clean, final copy.

I will also provide comments and feedback where appropriate.

 *Rates vary depending on the level of work required, the word count and any special requirements you may have. 
A final quote will be given once I have reviewed a sample.
Maximum rate capped at: 2p per word.

 Small projects up to 1000 words, will be charged at a fixed rate of £20.00.
A deposit will be required prior to work starting.