July 2020 – When Should I Use a Proofreader?

Whenever you’re going to put something written into the public domain, or hand it over for assessment, it’s essential to make use of a proofreader.

But there’s more to it than that. There’s the timing.

Last month I commented on the frustrations of being asked to do copywriting rather than proofreading. Another frustrating aspect of the job is last-minute requests, such as a Friday evening request for a 30,000 word PhD thesis to be proofread over the weekend so it can submitted Monday morning.

It’s important to consider:

1) It takes time to proofread.

It’s not just reading: it’s reviewing the document as a whole – formatting, internal referencing etc. I find I look at each word individually, rather than read it. Proofreaders can work at 2,000 to 3,000 words per hour, but it varies depending on what service we’re providing, the type of text (eg fictional or technical) and the quality of the writing to start with. Also, we wouldn’t do a full 10,000-word document in one day, we’d do it in a few sittings to maintain concentration. So, ideally, we may want a whole week to review the document.

2) It takes time to review the issues we raise.

It’s unlikely your copy or thesis (or whatever) will be found to be error-free. You’ll need time to review it after proofreading, consider any comments made by the proofreader and make changes. Then, it may need another proofread to check for consistency!

So, going back to the original question: when should you use a proofreader?

As early as possible! Or at least, enquire as early as possible. Discuss what you want, what you need and by when. Budget for the time and cost. Can you send over your copy in chunks rather than leave it to be done all in one go? Make sure the agreed timescales allow time for you to review post-proofread.

Of course, you can always use a spellchecker (and many previous blogs have covered why you don’t want to), but remember:

  1. I can save you time reviewing the document – allowing you to work on other things while your copy is proofread.
  2. Think about how much a mistake would cost you in terms of reputation or re-printing.
  3. I can add value to your work – it’s not just finding errors but helping you refine the document.

If you want to have a no obligation chat about my services then please do get in touch.

Kindly proofread by Janice Gilbert of WordPerfectProof.

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