I am often followed on Twitter by editors, proofreaders, and companies that offer these services. Sometimes I follow them back, sometimes I don’t, depending on the individual profile.
Today I was followed by a company whose bio claims they offer the ‘best online editing and proofreading services’. Their tweets seemed to be answering many interesting questions, and they quoted what looked like erudite articles. I clicked on their website, which also looked smart and well-produced. Next, I went to their ‘Services’ tab and read a small section selected at random―and guess what? I found at least 7 errors. Yes, that’s right, 7. I didn’t read any further.
Would you like to see what I found?
My remarks are in bold in brackets:
‘Proofreading aims to correct all errors in grammar, punctuation, syntax, and spelling in a manuscript. If you wish to see whether the final version of your document contains any minor errors, you need a proofreading service, no (they mean ‘not’) an editing service.
Editing necessitate (an ‘s’ is needed here) more of an extra effort from an editor than does a proofreading service.
Editing will mostly make some fundamental changes to improve the standard of the academic writing of the document. As a consequence of this fact, editors will sometimes re-write (‘rewrite’ needs no hyphen) some parts of your document. This is especially important, since an editing service aims to guarantee that the purposes of the document are met.
Editing services will also check whether the document has any grammatical, spelling, or punctuation mistakes to make sure the document is error-free. Thus, an editor will correct all errors in in (repetition of the word ‘in’) grammar, typography, punctuation, syntax, and spelling in a manuscript.
In this sense, and (they mean ‘an’) editing service covers the proofreading service as well. However, strictly speaking, proofreading of your document is the last stage before it is delivered to you. Therefore, even if the editor has corrected many of the errors that a proofreader would correct, the document must still pass through this last stage—proofreading. Whether your document is a dissertation or a masters (should be ‘master’s’) thesis or a term document or business document, to make it shine, we mostly advice (should be ‘advise’) our clients to opt for the editing service instead of the mere proofreading.’
Leaving aside the occasional superfluous or missing definite and indefinite articles, and tautology, this is hardly a good advertisement for their services!
So – how do you find a proofreader, when there are so many to choose from on social media, and you really want to feel comfortable about paying money to someone you don’t know?
- Ask for recommendations from writers with whom you’ve interacted, and who seem to be people of sound judgement
- Contact the proofreaders and ask if they will correct a short sample free of charge, so that you can see how they work, and if you like it. Any proofreader worth their salt will do this
- Ask for references – these should be from people whom you can actually contact, not just random quotes (such as ‘Very pleased’ – A. Smith, Birmingham)!
- If you’re considering whether or not to employ a particular proofreader, you could always look at the ‘Look Inside’ pages of a book they’ve worked on, on Amazon. It’ll give you an idea of what they do
One last point – I recently worked with a client who had self-published her book, after running it through Grammarly. She then received quite a few reviews saying that there were many punctuation and grammar errors. So she ran it through Grammarly again, checking for (her words) ‘run-on sentences, punctuation, spelling errors’. Result – more negative reviews. She decided to give the book to me for proofreading. I made over 1,000 corrections. I would not recommend that anyone rely on Grammarly!