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.
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 debatable, 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.
I’m a student. Can you proofread my essay / thesis / dissertation?
Short answer: Yes.
I have an academic background and am happy to proofread texts for students and academics, particularly in subjects that fall under humanities and social sciences.
Please ensure that your university allows the use of proofreaders and that you understand the guidelines.
The vast majority of universities do not allow proofreaders to go beyond basic correction of spelling, grammar and punctuation, i.e. a strictly traditional proofread. In other words, I can ensure that your use of standard English is correct, but I cannot make specific suggestions for improving the language, let alone the content itself.
For short pieces, the minimum charge is £20.
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