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What Does a Proofreader Do?

Imagine you're reading a story. It could be your own, or maybe it's something written by a favorite author, journalist, or critic. You love the words on the page. You're being carried away to new lands, new ideas, new loves. And then you see it—a gap in a sentence, a misspelled word (maybe several misspelled words … ). Whatever it is, you know it's wrong, but you don't know how it got there or why it hasn't been fixed because isn't it so glaringly obvious? How could someone miss it!

Unfortunately, instances of typo terror happen more often than you think. And it's why proofreaders and the very art of proofreading exists.

What Is Proofreading?

Proofreading is the final stage in the editing process. It's the tidying up of wayward spaces, rogue apostrophes, reluctant letters, and manipulative comma splices. Those individuals who scan every line of text hunting for—and fixing—these mistakes are called proofreaders.

What Are Proofreaders?

Proofreaders act as the last line of defense before a story, book, article, etc., becomes published. They don't pay attention to plot holes or character inconsistencies (that's what a developmental or line editor does), but rather, they focus solely on elements such as:

  • punctuation use and accuracy – the way punctuation Is used and looks on the page

  • consistency of page elements – use of paragraph breaks, spaces around punctuation such as ellipses or em dashes, and capitalization

  • spelling – how words appear while reading, e.g. color with an o or colour with a u?

Why Does Proofreading Matter?

Proofreading strengthens your sentences, ensures clarity in your writing, and even saves lives. Yes, save lives. How? Check out this article about comma usage and how its presence or absence can clarify or confuse meaning. (Everything in it falls into the realm of proofreading too.)

Simply put, if you want to present the most polished piece of writing to the world, PROOFREAD. It doesn't matter whether you proofread your text or find a professional editor who offers proofreading services. If you take time to have your work reviewed, it will make a difference.

I recommend having at least one person other than you review your work for glaring errors that arise from typing too fast or thinking quicker than you can type. It's so easy to think your piece is perfect and then hit "submit" or "send." Only later do you notice all your mistakes are on display because you didn't take time to proofread.

The benefit of an outside proofreader (not you) is that they approach your writing with fresh eyes. They haven't read the same sentences a thousand times and are therefore more likely to spot mistakes. Their keen focus will save you blushes in the long run too.

So next time you want to publish something, make sure to check it over or invest in a trusted professional proofreader to help you present your best work possible.

Interested in correcting your pesky writing errors? I offer professional proofreading services as a standalone feature. Check out my services page for more details, or visit my contact page to get in touch.

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