By K. Acheson
A proofreader provides an essential service — one you might not realize is necessary until you spot an error or inconsistency after your work is published. Here is a list of some of the benefits of having a proofreader review your work:
1. A good proofreader looks for spelling and grammar issues your word processing program likely won't catch.
- If your company name is "Boson" and you accidently typed "Boston" in a document, a program like Microsoft Word would not flag "Boston" as being misspelled — it is a word, and it is correctly spelled; Microsoft does not know the context and thus does not know that the word is being used incorrectly.
- Also, although Microsoft's grammar-checking tools have improved over the years, they will not always flag places where, for example, "a" should replace "the" or "10" should replace "ten", and they frequently incorrectly flag, for example, complete sentences as fragments.
- A good proofreader knows the context of the text and can correct or leave issues as necessary.
2. A good proofreader looks for spelling and grammar issues your word processing program caught and fixed — that weren't actually issues.
- Microsoft Word has a great AutoCorrect feature that does things like change words starting with two capital letters to correctly capitalized words (for example, it automatically corrected "WOrd" to "Word" when I typed it just now). However, some acronyms and other words should use multiple capital letters — for example, "IDs" and "PINs" both use multiple uppercase letters in their correct form.
- A good proofreader looks for AutoCorrect mistakes and makes sure that, for example, "Ids" is correctly "IDs".
3. A good proofreader looks for consistency within a document.
- If you say that something happened in a specific year and then later say that the same event was X number of years ago, a good proofreader will do the math.
- If you name names throughout your document, a good proofreader will ensure that every time that name is written, it is spelled and capitalized the same way.
- A good proofreader keeps a list (either physical or mental) of details and verifies that they are consistent throughout the entire document.
- That same good proofreader will also contact you if any discrepancies cannot be easily resolved.
4. A good proofreader notices the little things, like a missing word, an extra space between two sentences, a missing period, etc.
- The more you write and the more you read through what you've written, the more familiar you become with what you've written. Missing words can be overlooked because you can become so familiar with what you are trying to say that you subconsciously add the words into the text. An objective, outside entity (in this case, a proofreader) will not be as familiar with the text and is thus more likely to notice and fix those little things.
- A good proofreader will notice those little things and fix them when necessary.
- That same good proofreader will also diligently run the spell checker as the very last step in proofing a document — just in case!
Besides the benefits listed above, one other major advantage of using a proofreader is that you give yourself the best chance of getting (and keeping) repeat readers. A reader who sees that what's been written is free from spelling, grammatical, and contextual errors is much more likely to read works from you again.
Trust me, you don't want to be featured on one of the many blogs out there that highlight mistakes found in written works. One of my favorites is Regret The Error (http://www.poynter.org/category/latest-news/regret-the-error/ ). As amusing as those corrections are to read, a writer can dream much bigger than being featured there!
Do you know a good proofreader? What makes him or her good?
Are you interested in authoring a practice exam? We're always looking for knowledgeable writers who want to turn their expertise into extra income.
Photo: Orin Zebest