What on Earth is proofreading? (Hint: It’s not editing)
Did you cross your t’s and dot your i’s? Great! But editing and good proofreading travels a little beyond that mark, and it is important to recognize the magnitude of it. You’ve probably spent hours, weeks, and maybe even months roving your tired eyes over the same documents. You’re probably so sick of your manuscript that words look weird now. We get it, content is way more of a priority than seemingly arbitrary syntax rules.
So, you might as well take a break, and leave this last step to professionals.
Straight off the bat, let’s establish that editing and proofreading are not the same. But if you were unaware of the difference, let this article be your one-stop destination to finally find out what actually goes on in an editor’s room.
Think of editing as this big umbrella and proofreading as one of the many people standing under it. So, you’ll find that quite a few steps overlap and repeat between the two, but there are still significant distinctions.
Editing: The first step
You’ve perhaps heard of editing as the general process for improving the quality of writing in general. This is true, but editing is only the first few steps of many. More often than not, it overlaps with the early stages of writing, and so the emphasis at this point is more about fine-tuning your stories or ideas, rather than making corrections in grammar and syntax.
Editing focuses on your content and looks at how it is being presented. Also sometimes known as content editing, it is an important step in helping your writing find its voice and structure. It’s more about helping the content evolve to its true potential, before it goes to the next stage – copyediting. That is when the focus is on improving language, checking facts and consistency in your manuscript, and your work can often be rewritten, reworked altogether, or even omitted depending on whichever helps readability.
Editors also tend to leave comments while adding, rewriting or omitting any moderate to major parts of your document. This, of course, doesn’t at all mean that they are changing the meaning of your work but, in fact, simply work towards a better presentation of it.
When you choose to get your document edited, you are choosing a detailed content review and feedback that will make your work better organized and easier to understand.
The big Q: What exactly is proofreading, then?
Editing a document can be a process undertaken alongside writing or after, but proofreading happens only after the document is written and done. Your manuscript reaches a proofreader once you think it is thoroughly ready to hit the market.
It involves correcting superficial errors in spelling, grammar, syntax and punctuation. Small errors are corrected to improve the overall flow of the document. Here too, the document is rigorously checked for consistency and formatting. However, proofreaders also maintain specific style sheets to have a point of reference while proofreading large documents. For example, if you mix up British English and American English spellings of a word (“favourite” and “favorite”), it’s a proofreader’s job to ensure consistency in whichever style you choose to write in.
Therefore proofreading, while a subset of the editing process, is a skill that is more technical and does not involve any correction or rearranging content.
So, which do you choose between the two?
If you’re looking to hire a professional editor or proofreader, you might find yourself a little unsure of which service to pick. Obviously, we’d suggest you did both since these aren’t mutually exclusive services.
Often, a document can have great content but would still require a great deal of formatting to fix it. Similarly, you can’t just send in a document that’s only been proofread, since sentence-level editing in context is necessary. If you decide to simply proofread your document, it would be error-free for sure, but the lack of content editing could make all the difference in your getting published, scoring a good grade, or even getting a job!
Do I even need a proofreader?
Now that you have nearly reached the finishing line of your literary marathon, why skimp on the proofreading? Think of it as adding that little spritz of body mist just before you step out. And here’s why hiring a professional proofreader is much more worthwhile than poring over your document for the fifth time.
#1. It Saves Your Soul!
We know that you’re buried under a giant pile of munchies, countless mugs of coffee, and frustration as the clock keeps ticking away. We understand the feeling of typing that last full stop, and the exhilaration that follows. The prospect of editing after all that time will obviously seem taxing (an understatement, we get it!) post that. You’ve earned yourself that break, so go revel in it while your paper/book flourishes in the right hands!
#2. Better safe than sorry!
Many documents that require proofreading might have sensitive or personal material. Online free editing softwares provide the most elementary corrections while endangering your documents at the same time. Sites like Grammarly don’t guarantee safety of your content or the document as such (pro tip: always check the terms and conditions!).
A professional proofreading service, therefore, will provide you with expert advice and corrections while ensuring your material remains confidential. (Another pro tip: humans over AI, always.)
#3. Spell Check (Or Not?)
Microsoft Word and an abundance of free grammar checkers have offered 95 percent of the market an easy way to make your documents top-notch…or so you’d think. Most people consider this enough. However, they often skip out on correcting certain grammatical errors and are notoriously infamous for identifying less than 10 out of 20 errors. To add insult to injury, the software also keeps urging you to correct phrases that might not even be wrong! So if habit does get you into using this option, make sure it’s followed up by further revisions.
#4. A New Perspective
Professional editors can do it better than your mom can! No, really. Friends and family might not understand or have the required knowledge to proofread a document above a certain level. They could easily end up focusing more on contextual correction rather than grammatical errors. Additionally, they might avoid pointing out crucial mistakes for fear of hurting your sentiments. The feeling of ‘aww, how sensitive’, however, doesn’t translate into marks for your thesis or an audience for your book.
Why PaperTrue, you ask?
Saying, “sit back, relax and PaperTrue” is easy. What’s not easy is the time spent hanging around until the time of delivery. What’s happening right now? How much longer will it take? Will the editor even do a good job? Will they send it in time for submission? What exactly happens after you send us your document?
So many questions! Easy, tiger. Let me give you an exclusive behind the scenes of the entire editing process to soothe your curiosity.
Step One: Account or no Account?
Obviously. Once you create an account with us, you will be given a unique link to upload your document (academic, writers, job applicants and businesses respectively). You can then upload your document on the dashboard which is then reflected on our order sheet. From there, the document is analyzed based on a wide variety of factors before it gets assigned to one of our editors. We know that each document has its own requirements, and therefore needs its own specialized editor.
Step Two: The Operations Team
The Operations Team is basically the Godfather of all editing and proofreading work that goes on at PaperTrue. From analyzing the type of document to the delivery time required and more, they know and control everything.
It’s important to know that there are 3 basic turnover options, i.e, Standard (24 hours or more), Express (depending on the word count but usually within 24 hours) and Custom (under 24 hours). Based on the option you select plus what kind of document you need edited (academic, books, CVs or even menus, etc.) an editor specialized in that field is picked and assigned. In the case of Custom orders however, you would be required to email the Sales Team as opposed to the regular method of using your account.
Step Three: Editor selection
In order to decide which editor is matched with what document (yet another domain of the Ops team), these are the parameters that are considered.
- Type of editing and/or proofreading as required by the client
- Skill set of the editor based on information provided by them as well as experience.
- Turnover time
Step Four: Editing and Proofreading
You already know what happens here. At the speed of a 1000 words an hour, the editors edit as well as proofread your manuscript to perfection. A PaperTrue editor is tasked on reviewing each manuscript on three levels:
- Paragraph level editing addresses organisation and structural issues in the content.
- Sentence level editing refines clarity, and makes syntactical corrections in your sentences.
- The third stage is word level editing – proofreading.
It is also important to note that our editors work with Microsoft Word. So if you send in your documents in some other format, they are first converted to Word for the process of editing and then converted back.
Step Five: Reviewing
Once the document has been edited, it is sent to a Senior Editor for a final review if required. The Senior Editor will then fine tune and polish the document further where necessary, and the clean file, as well as the tracked file are then sent back to the Operations Team.
Step Six: Back To You!
The Ops Team then uploads the two documents on your dashboard, where you can check out the reviewed file. In case of any discrepancy or a need for more revisions, you can always speak to our customer support, who will help you resolve any and all issues.
Now that you know the other side of the story, at least briefly, you can probably breathe a little easier knowing that your document is in good hands.
So sit back, relax, and PaperTrue.
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I was happy to receive both a tracked and a clean version of the edited document.
I will happily recommend PaperTrue to my friends, and I will myself come back on a later occasion.
Amazing service and a welcoming chat on the website! I love the detailed comments and feedback on the tracked document :) They really did a good job at making my debut novel a lot better while still keeping my style of writing!
Much love from Denmark <3