‘Right first time’ is a myth
One of the golden rules drilled into me during my time as a newspaper sub-editor was that the final read-through of a corrected page should always be done by someone else. The value of having another set of eyes proofing your work before it heads off to the printer cannot be emphasised too highly.
The same principles apply to any written work. It’s very easy to repeat the same mistakes over and over again without realising. Often, a fresh eye is needed – and this is where a professional proofreader comes in.
I am a member of the Society of Editors and Proofreaders (SfEP). As members, we adhere to a code of practice that sets standards for proofreading and editing. These standards include pricing, editorial excellence, relationships with clients and confidentiality. The full SfEP Code of Practice is available to read here.
So, do you need a proofreader or does your manuscript need the more in-depth service of a copy-editor? A quick summary of the differences should help you decide which one is for you.
This is the starting point. Copy-editing involves working on the raw material, such as the first draft of a novel, a web page or a brochure, and getting it ready for publication.
As well as correcting grammar, punctuation and spelling mistakes, copy-editing involves a few more checks, including:
- Creating stylesheets for consistency in body text, header fonts and paragraph indentation.
- Consistency in spelling, quotation marks, numbers, dashes and spacing.
- Correct spelling of placenames and famous people.
- Checking chapter numbers and/or titles to make sure they are sequential and relevant.
- Ensuring continuity is intact: for example, making sure the hair and eyes of a character in a novel don’t suddenly change colour – and that their name is spelled the same way throughout.
- Using synonyms to eliminate repetition of words in a sentence.
These are just some of the services a copy-editor provides. For a more comprehensive round-up, read this: What is copy-editing?
A proofreader makes the final checks before a document is handed back to the client, ready for publication or distribution. This is really the mopping-up stage where final corrections are made to grammar, spellings and any remaining typographical errors.
A proofreader also looks out for:
- Consistency in style, text, layout, images and captions.
- Ambiguity and lack of clarity in meaning.
To find out more about what a proofreader does. Take a look here: What is proofreading.
Things I need to know
Before pricing up and taking on a job, there are a few things I need to know in advance.
1. Details about the job: For example, is it a novel, thesis, CV, or company newsletter?
2. Word count: This helps me to assess how long the job will take.
3. Your deadline: I’m busier at some times than others, so it helps if you contact me well before your work needs to be completed.
4. Does your manuscript need copy-editing or proofreading? Obviously, the former is more time-consuming, so please allow for this. If you are not sure, then send me around 1,000 words taken from the middle of the manuscript, and I can let you know which of the services would suit you best.
Things you need to know
- I work on a PC with Windows 10 and Microsoft Word 2010, using Track Changes to give you a record of any changes I’ve made. I also use the balloons in Track Changes to record any comments that might be helpful. It is up to you to accept or reject those changes.
- I use macros to cut down time on repetitive changes, such as changing double-spacing to single-spacing. The time saved by doing this also helps to cut costs for you.
- I use annotations and sticky notes to make changes on PDFs.
- Once finished, I will send the completed document in Word for you to view changes and also in PDF format so you can see the corrected document in its finished form.
- Payment is via bank transfer within 30 days of receiving the invoice. A receipt will be issued once payment is made.
Pricing and pace of work
Please contact me for rates. Until I see your submission, it’s difficult to give a definitive figure. As a guide, I can proofread up to 3,000 words per hour. However, if a lot of corrections are needed, this figure may drop to 2,000 wph, and for copy-editing, this may fall to 1,000 wph or less.
Proofreading is tiring work. As a rule, I work six hours on screen a day, building in breaks to maintain concentration. This should help you to work out how long it will take me to proofread or copy-edit your manuscript.