Many writers wonder whether they need proofreading because it can feel like just another cost in the publishing journey. Everyone wants their writing to be perfect before publishing it for their readers, but the extra cost can often discourage writers from engaging a proofreader. Before you decide to ditch proofreading altogether, let’s take a look at its place in the editing process.
What is proofreading?
Proofreading is often confused with copyediting, which has its own distinct and useful role in the editing process.
Proofreading comes after copyediting. A proofreader is the last person who will look at your work before you publish. He or she will check for any minor errors left in your work, such as:
- Spelling mistakes
- Missing words
- Extra words or spaces
- Stray punctuation marks
- Formatting errors
- Page number errors
- Heading capitalisation errors
- Inconsistency with numbering, word usage, spelling, punctuation and formatting
NOTE: These errors will be few and far between during a proofread. The proofreader only catches errors that the copyeditor missed or created during the copyedit. If your text has errors in every sentence or paragraph, then it is not yet ready for a proofread. In that case, you need a copyedit.
Do proofreaders check against an earlier version?
The Institute of Professional Editors (IPEd) states that proofreaders check you have made all changes suggested in the copyedit. But not all writers need proofreading at that level and many proofreaders don’t do this.
You can ask a proofreader to do this but it will cost a lot more. Most will simply read your work and mark any errors they find, rather than checking your document against an earlier version.
Do I need proofreading?
If you want your writing to be close to perfect, you need proofreading. It is impossible to catch every error with one copyedit, so your writing will almost always have some errors remaining after the copyedit. A proofreader picks up most of these remaining errors.
When should I engage a proofreader?
You should hire a proofreader once you have finished writing and a professional editor has copyedited your work. You (or a professional) should have already typeset or formatted your work for publication.
If you have finished writing and want someone to check for errors, you need a copyeditor, not a proofreader.
Advantages of proofreading
Proofreading helps you achieve polished, error-free writing. You may need a few rounds to find every error, but one round will pick up most. A proofread lets you:
- feel confident that your writing is at a publishable standard
- learn the kinds of errors that hide from the untrained eye
- provide your readers with professional writing they can trust.
Disadvantages of proofreading
Proofreading is an extra editing cost, which may put pressure on some writer’s budgets. If you only do one round, your writing may still contain a few errors.
Is proofreading worth it?
Proofreading is valuable for all writers, whether they are creative writers or business writers. Your readers will form opinions about you or your business based on the quality of your writing, so engaging a proofreader is usually well worth the investment.
We always try to work within your budget. Ask for a quote today and give yourself the best chance of success.