If you’re anything like most people, you’ll have agonized over an important piece of writing at least once in your life — repeatedly questioning how to start your sentences, whether to choose “find” or “discover”, and wondering whether to write “oversaturated” or “over-saturated”. After reviewing your text approximately two million and ninety-five times, you’d think, all the typos, unforgivable spelling errors, and inconsistencies would be gone almost by default, no?
That’s not how it works. After a while, as you grow increasingly fatigued and bored of the text, your brain will inevitably start to see what you intended to write — rather than what you actually did.
Hiring a professional proofreader is an integral part of your writing process for this very reason, whether you’ve penned a novel that’s already gone through developmental editing or writing an important white paper for your company. How exactly do you go about finding proofreading services and hiring a professional proofreader, though, and what do proofreaders actually do?
What Can Proofreaders Do?
Proofreading is the last stage in the editorial process. In some cases, like short blog posts or resume writing, it may be the only one. Other texts, like long-form journalism or academic articles, will have gone through meticulous editorial processes that include developmental and line editing before they ever reach a proofreader. Proofreaders will, in that scenario, literally “sweat the small stuff”. Your proofreader can:
- Catch pesky typos that even the most advanced spellcheck software would never pick up on as they’d technically be correct, as well as more insidious spelling errors.
- Discover grammatical errors that everyone before them missed. If you’ve ever heard the unfortunate term “grammar Nazi”, proofreaders embody that concept for a living.
- Weed out inconsistencies in your writing. You may say “17.1%” in one place, and “58 percent” in another, for instance, or have inadvertently written both “US” and “U.S.”. A proofreader will make sure that kind of thing never makes it to your published version.
- Look out for typographical and formatting inconsistencies, extra spacing, and excessive “word echoes”, in which similar words are artlessly used too many times in the same sentence or paragraph.
Your proofreader will ensure that your writing is consistent with your chosen style guide, if any, and free of these persistent errors. They typically have a degree in a field related to English, such as literature or creative writing, and may also perform other types of editing.
How Can You Find the Right Proofreader?
The skill level you require from a proofreader depends on the type of writing you have done, as well as the length of the text. If you’re writing a fairly important email or personal blog post, for instance, you can probably do your own proofreading. Give yourself enough time to be able to distance yourself from your draft in that case, and you increase your odds of discovering your typos and inconsistencies. More important texts, from policy proposals to white papers, and short stories you are planning to enter into creative writing contests to entire books, call for a professional proofreader.
- Ask any stickler or English-degree holder at your workplace for help with proofreading short texts.
- Find independent freelance proofreaders online, through their own websites or dedicated marketplaces. Make sure to check their reviews before you make any hiring decisions, and test their skill with a shorter sample if you are still concerned.
- If you’re working on a book, ask industry contacts or developmental editors to recommend proofreaders. Personal connections allow you to narrow your choices down and ensure that you end up working with a professional.
Hiring a professional proofreader for around $10 per 1,000 words has become easier than ever, thanks to dedicated marketplaces on the internet, whether you require a quick once-over for a shorter project or an in-depth proof for a long academic text. The best proofreaders make working together easy and have an array of software choices at their disposal, as well as coming highly recommended.