Using care, judgement, skill, knowledge and experience.
“Let’s Start at the Very Beginning, a Very Good Place to Start”
So sang Julie Andrews in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s famous musical The Sound of Music. And that’s good advice. To begin at the beginning means I won’t make any assumptions about what you may - or may not - already know about proofreading! For, as the Franciscan friar William of Ockham stated,
“The explanation requiring the fewest assumptions is most likely to be correct.”
And so, as if I were addressing the entirely uninitiated, let’s start off by briefly explaining what proofreading is - and is not. If you already know something of the topic, then please treat this is a revision 101 exercise!
What is proofreading?
You may well ask why? Well, because the knowledge and applied skills required for both are different, as is the time allowance necessary, and the cost to undertake either, amongst other things. So, it’s a good thing to be as clear as possible at the outset.
Many professional proofreaders have the necessary skills to provide both services, as I do, but each requires separate negotiation and briefing. For copy-editing services, visit the copy-editing page. For proofreading, read on.
Proofreading is the final stage (or process) of the preparation of written work (either on paper or on screen) before it is ready for publication and showing to the world! It is the end stage quality check and tidy-up to ensure that nothing has been missed and all is at it should be.
So, when you and/or others (the ‘authors’) have laboriously crafted your words and it has been subsequently copy-edited, a professional proofreader can step in.
Part of the professional proofreader’s job is also to undertake light editing within tight limits. It is not their job to re-edit the material in any major way at this stage, and they will only intervene with good reason.
What proofreading is not
Copy-editing - A copy-editor takes the raw material (known as the ‘copy’, which can be anything from text on a web page to the manuscript of a lengthy novel) and makes it ready for publication in the format required by the client.
Other professionals will be involved at some stage during the whole process, as appropriate, including a designer, proofreader, indexer, typesetter, and printer - all dependent on the work being copy-edited.
Indexing - This is the ‘ordered arrangement of entries … designed to enable users to locate information in a document or specific documents in a collection’. A document may be a book, periodical, film, website or any other information source.
If you believe you require the services of an indexer, I suggest you contact The Society of Indexers. Founded in 1957, they promote indexing, the quality of indexes and the profession of indexing. It is the only autonomous professional body for indexers in the UK and Ireland.
Page layout/design - This is a specialist skill that frequently needs the services of a professional graphic designer. Many online freelancer websites exist where one can find and pay for the services of a suitably experienced individual. I have personal and professional experience of People Per Hour and can recommend their platform.
Permission seeking - Copyright law (in any country) is a complex and specialist area. Although I can give advice to clients on sources for royalty and attribution-free images, I do not otherwise seek permissions for use of material from copyright holders, as reiterated below.
In my particular case, I do not provide indexing services, page layout and design services, or seek copyright permission on behalf of my clients for their use of copyright material belonging to someone else, whatever the format.
a summary WHAT YOU GET WITH THIS service (DEPENDING ON APPLICABILITY)
I go through your document by hand! There are great self-editing tools available online, but they cannot outdo an experienced human eye!
Ensuring a consistent style of spelling, and hyphenation in particular, by following a style guide, if supplied, or by compiling my own.
Watching for omissions and inconsistencies in typography, layout and content, ensuring the content looks right and is logically arranged (but see point ‘3’ in the next section).
Elimination of inelegant or confusing words (if appropriate) and column and page breaks, including 'widows' and 'orphans'.
Ensuring that illustrations, captions and labels correspond with each other and with the text. Checking page numbers and page headings.
Checking of any table of contents against chapter titles, page numbers and end matter – such as appendices, index, etc.
Checking of grammar and of the following: readability; consistency; pacing; sentence length variation; repeat sentence starts; ‘sticky’ sentences; overused words; repeat words; vague and abstract words; clichés; passive and hidden verbs; subordinate clauses; adverbs; pronoun use; alliterations; transitions; homonyms; acronyms; dialogue use.
Provision of a summary statistics report (by email) on the key findings of your document.
To provide regular progress reports and to be available (by email) to receive requests and comments throughout the length of the assignment.
If necessary, providing up to two further minor revisions following receipt and review by you of the proofread text.
Please be aware that the provision of certain services shown above may not be appropriate or possible with the proofreading of web page/website content. If unsure about applicability, please message me first.
‘Off-the-shelf’ defined and fixed proofreading packages are also available within my shop for the following limits: 500 words, 1,000 words, 1,500 words, and 2,000 words.
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a summary of WHAT YOU DO NOT GET WITH THIS service (DEPENDING ON APPLICABILITY)
Proofreading of any text that is not predominantly in British or American English.
Page layout and design, including text and cover image design.
Research (including picture research and the finding of images) or the checking of any factual information.
Checking of the accuracy of any charts, graphs, tables, spreadsheet information, formulae, hypertext links, bibliography and references.
Checking of the accuracy of any reference citation style, e.g., Chicago, Harvard, APA, MLA, IEEE, and others.
Indexing of your content.
The seeking of permission from copyright holders on your behalf to use their text and images.
A plagiarism check, unless also purchased in my shop (order below) for use with this particular bespoke proofreading service.
A Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) unless also purchased in my shop (order below) for use with this particular bespoke proofreading service
Project management services.
My entry rate for bespoke proofreading is currently set at GBP £24.30 an hour, which is in keeping with the prevailing rate recommended by the Society for Editors and Proofreaders (SfEP) as the suggested minimum hourly rate for this service. As a rule of thumb, that equates to the proofreading of around 1,000 words an hour, depending on the text being proofread and the quality of the copy when first presented.
A lower hourly rate may be agreed between us at my sole discretion, for example by me applying a ‘weighting’ that reduces the hourly rate for a larger (single job) total word count, as in the case of a thesis or dissertation. Each quote received will be assessed and priced on a case-by-case basis.
I do not provide services for text in any language other than British or American English.
My métier: I specialise in the proofreading and editing of thesis and dissertations, especially health-related.
“James is excellent in his work. I would highly recommend him for editing and proofreading services. The best part is that he will always keep you informed. Thank you, James!”
- Ali Q, Saudi Arabia. (editing and proofreading of a doctoral thesis)