I offer two similar but distinct proofreading services:
- the traditional proofread. Only corrects actual errors and inconsistencies. Recommended if the manuscript has already been line- and/or copy-edited.
- the proof-edit. Includes a normal proofread plus simple style edits. Recommended if the manuscript has been neither line- or copy-edited, or if you’re a very strong self-editor.
Includes checking for
- Errors of spelling, grammar & punctuation (where not a deliberate style choice)
- Clarity (is your meaning clear?)
- Continuity (are there gaps in logic, or does a character change eye colour halfway through?)
- Consistency (where a word has more than one accepted spelling, have you chosen one and stuck with it?)
- Pagination and chapter sequencing (no duplicated or skipped numbers)
- Formatting (indentation, spacing, chapter titles, fonts, use of bold/italic)
- Layout (widows, orphans, end-of-line hyphenation, placement of images*)
*Only relevant if the manuscript has been typeset/formatted for print publication or a fixed-layout e-book (as opposed to a reflowable one).
The traditional proofread can be carried out in a Word document with Track Changes and Comments or (if the manuscript has been typeset/formatted) on a PDF with annotations.
This comprises a traditional proofread + simple ‘style’ edits, meaning edits to text that isn’t ‘wrong’, but where a change may nevertheless render the text more readable and allow it to flow better. Depending on the manuscript, you may see suggested changes along the lines of the following:
- Deleting unnecessary adverbs/adjectives
- Deleting extraneous wordage
- Smoothing awkward sentences
- Flagging repetition of words or information
- Suggesting alternative word choices
- Removing inappropriate or excessive saidisms
- Breaking up of lengthy paragraphs, especially where there’s a notable shift in focus/subject
Additionally: during a proofread, there are always some changes that are debateable, e.g. a comma that isn’t 100% necessary but which could help the reader parse and understand the sentence more quickly. In a traditional proofread, I would tend to lean towards not making the change (especially if there are no other changes close by), the goal here always being to keep changes to a minimum: it’s a final check and polish, not a carte balance to improve the text.
However, a proof-edit opens the door to non-essential edits – lowers the bar for what is an acceptable change – so I would be leaning towards accepting these debateable changes. Do be aware (and assured), though, that this is still a proof-edit, so I will not go wild adding punctuation and tweaking sentences absolutely all over the place.
Due to the larger number of changes, the proof-edit can only be carried out in a Word document with Track Changes and Comments. The price will also be a little higher than for proofreading.
Proofreading with Track Changes and Comments
When proofreading/proof-editing in a Word document, I’ll mark changes using a combination of the Track Changes and Comments features.
I’ll use Track Changes most of the time:
- for straightforward corrections, deletions and insertions
- when a sentence requires recasting and there’s a simple and obvious way to do it
I’ll use Comments when
- a sentence requires rewriting or recasting, but the changes are more complex or there are many ways it could be written. I will then flag the issue in a comment and suggest one or two possible solutions
- I identify an issue but cannot resolve it without your input. E.g. when there’s a spelling inconsistency with no obvious preference, or when the meaning of a sentence is unclear
If I’m doing a proof-edit for you, you can also choose to have me mark all or some types of non-essential changes with the Comments feature. I don’t necessarily recommend this, because implementing changes will be much more work for you this way – with Track Changes you accept or reject a change with the click of a button – but it will allow you to easily tell them apart from the more essential changes. The choice is yours!
Below is a selection of published (or to-be-published) projects that I have worked on. Unpublished works include author portfolios, agent submissions and short stories. I also do light proofreading on many of the novels that I beta read.
- The Lord of the Looking Glass by Fiona McGavin (Immanion Press), short story collection, sci-fi/fantasy
- Acting Happy by Jo Lobato, novel, commercial women’s fiction
- In Search of Jude by ML Carrington, novel, romantic thriller
- Dear You, Sod You (Sam Wilson, ed.), short story anthology, contemporary
- Horizon, issues 157–present (Huntington Society of Canada), charity newsletter