Proofreading and copyediting are often used interchangeably, but they are separate (and individually important) jobs. If you’re not sure which service you need, get in touch and I’ll be happy to help.
Proofreading is your last line of defence against any mistakes and does not involve making substantive changes to your writing. It should take place in the very final stages before publication once your text is finalised. It’s a straightforward check for any errors in:
- formatting (including numbering and lists)
- cross-references and contents
Copyediting is a deeper intervention. It is a detailed line-by-line edit with the aim of ensuring that your text is easy to follow, accurate, appropriate for your audience and as error-free as possible. It should take place before your final proofreading, while there is still scope to make substantive changes. It involves checking for:
- spelling, grammar and punctuation mistakes
- consistency (e.g. of spelling, hypen use)
- tone and appropriateness for your target audience
- sentence and paragraph structure
- repetition that could be avoided
- awkward phrasing that could be improved
- gaps in information
- basic fact-checking
Will my text be perfect?
All proofreaders aim for perfection, but it can never be 100% guaranteed. This is particularly true where there are additional complicating factors like time constraints, or when the writing requires heavy intervention. The Society for Editors and Proofreaders (SfEP) has some good advice on this on their website.
The SfEP suggests that ‘an experienced professional proofreader, reading a copyedited typescript, should be able to spot and deal appropriately with at least 80% of all errors but at least 90% of typos – other things being equal.’
I will do everything I can to ensure that your text is error-free.