Through my own writing, especially my novels, I have discovered the importance of thorough proof-reading. No-one's work is foolproof. Reading and re-reading your own work, over and over, is mind-numbing and can induce a kind of 'word-blindness'. Having someone else, me, to check it, is the answer.
No matter what the source material, I begin proof-reading the same way, covering the basics such as spelling and grammar, and then move on to more in-depth checking.
- Repeated words - Detecting repeated words but also checking if they are as intended.
- Copy and paste accidents - Not just repeated text but accidentally including things that shouldn't be there, or forgetting to edit a name in a section, for instance.
- Missing / Mixed-up sections - Passages of text can be accidentally left behind when being moved during editing, or sometimes a copy can be incomplete, with the end of a sentence missing.
- Formatting - Are headings, fonts, spacing and colours all used consistently? Table contents aligned? Paragraphs indented properly? Checks also include looking for visually distracting items such as rivers, widows and orphans.
- Language - Even if English is your chosen language, foreign words still are used regularly and must be checked for spelling, punctuation and accented or special characters.
- Regionalisation / Localisation - Or should it be regionalization? "Color" or "colour"? And is "... between one and ten..." the same as "... one thru ten..."? I can check date and time formats, and spelling variations based on the locale of the intended readership.
- House style - If you are a company, and this is a press release or promotional material, I will check that it follows your house style or style guides - if you have one.
- Slang - Slang and incorrect language usage creeps into everyone's speech these days. I can highlight this for you and allow you to approve or not.
- Jargon - Too much technical jargon? Or not enough? And is it pertinent, or accurately used? My technical IT background can help in this area.
- Table of Contents / Indexes / Page-numbering - Checking that indexes are working, and any cross-references to in-text figures or illustrations or tables are also correct.
- Brand-names - Do you need to avoid brand-names or commercial trademarks? I can help spot these. Do your own trademarks need to be tagged with the correct symbols?
- References - I can ensure references to information or documents elsewhere are included if necessary.
- Abbreviations and Acronyms - Should it be "NASA" or "Nasa"? Both are valid, in the right context. And should they be defined on first usage? Should "UK" be "U.K."?
- Emojis / Web syntax - Checking emojis and shortcuts such as "LOL" and "OMG!", or ;) are as required, and also checking monikers such as twitter hashtags for accuracy and relevance.
- Readability - I can offer my opinion on word and phrase usage, how readable your text is, and provide suggestions for improving clarity.
- Flow - Does the document flow correctly? For instance, it introduces a topic properly before assuming the reader knows something? Or jumps around too much?
- Tools - If time is extremely tight, I will use various tools to make a quicker but perhaps less in-depth analysis, such as Hemingway or Ginger.
Proofreading Marks and Symbols
If I am proof-reading a hard-copy of a document, I can - if you wish - use standard proof-reader's marks to indicate issues. For online or electronic copy, which is the vast majority of material these days, I use simpler highlighting tools such as the "Track Changes" feature in Microsoft Word.
Additional on-request checks
- Re-writing - If there is a need for significant re-writing, this is a separate service that I can provide on request.
- Fact checking - I will also undertake Fact Checking - which can be a time-consuming task - on request.
- Layout / Device Checking - On request, I can check that text and formatting flows correctly on various devices and at different screen widths. For example, does simply orienting a screen to landscape mode break the text flow? Is hyphenating working?
- Screen-readers - Sometimes text is semantically incorrect for screen-readers, and text can often be 'hidden' in unreadable graphics, rendering the site unusable for some people.