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.

Traditional proofread

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.

Proof-edit

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!

Proofreading portfolio

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.