Here’s how I use a professional proofreader to add value for clients
It seems to me that no matter how many times I check and double-check my work, I will always miss something. Sometimes it’s a tiny thing: an extra ‘s’ here or a missing comma there. Sometimes I overlook a missing word. I think this happens to everyone. We know what we want to say, so when we read over our written words our brain compensates when it sees the mistakes on the page.
Bronwyn Windsor is a proofreader and editor who works across several fields. She is my go-to girl when it comes to checking my work and doing a final polish before any work is published. It’s a value-add for all my clients so they can be sure everything I deliver is perfect.
I asked her how she describes the kind of work she does, starting with the most obvious question...
So Bronwyn, how are proofreaders like ninjas?
They’re in and out without your readers noticing they’ve been there! A good proofreader will not change what you say so much that the ‘you’ is lost in the process. They’ll just bring out the clearer you.
What exactly IS proofreading?
Proofreading is reading the final proofs of a text to make sure everything’s correct before it’s sent off for publishing.
Basically, what I do is clean someone’s writing. With proofreading, it’s usually just a quick flick of the duster to fix the pesky typos, out-of-place punctuation and other small things that get in the way of a clear read.
What’s the difference between proofreading and editing?
Sometimes there’s some deeper cleaning that’s needed than just a simple proofread. For instance, the sentences may need rearranging, or paragraphs may need to be combined or separated. Sometimes, extra words need to be added so the logic or story flows naturally. This is basic editing.
Even more intensive editing would involve significantly changing things, at the level of: “What are you trying to communicate, and is this doing the best job of communicating that?”. For a work with multiple authors, editing can involve making sure the entire work is consistent in its style of expression and double-checking all references.
How do you balance the two?
If I’ve been hired to proofread, I might also suggest edits so that a reader isn’t confused by a possible mis-reading, or flag where something really needs to be changed because it is a real issue (for example, unintentionally racist language). The author can then decide whether they’re going to make those changes themselves.
If I’ve been asked to edit, I will make the changes without justifying them, but the author can see what changes I’ve made.
Proofreading for Jen Richards, Writer
At Jen Richards, Writer, Bronwyn proofreads all my work in the final stages before publication to check for spelling, grammar, links and heading errors so that clients can have confidence that copy is completely ‘clean’. Her broad experience (everything from PhD theses to books to course material to social media copy decks) complements the many kinds of writing services that I offer.