Things to Consider When Choosing a Professional Proofreader
When choosing a professional proofreader you have two fundamental factors to consider: the type of proofreading you want, and the competence of the professional to meet your needs. The latter is likely to be the more important to you, so let’s consider that first, focusing on an online proofreader since that is probably what you are looking for.
How to Choose an Online Proofreader
A great deal depends upon whether you are seeking a professional proofreading service to proof an online or offline publication. In the former case, the ‘Review’ and ‘Markup’ options of modern word processors can be used to offer a comprehensive and easy-to-follow proofing service that is not available for offline hard copy proofreading.
Nevertheless, the fundamental principles required in choosing a professional proofreader apply whether the text is for online or offline publication. Here are the more important factors you should consider
Many to Choose from
Choosing from all the various English proofreading services available on the internet can seem like a complex and daunting task. There are many factors to consider, from cost and delivery times to expertise knowledge of your writing subject, and the breadth of options out there can feel overwhelming.
The current top rated providers on FindProofreading.com are:
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The purpose of this guide is to reduce the confusion and assist you in your search for a reputable proofreading service that fits your own specific requirements.
Understand your own requirements
The first step to consider is what your own personal requirements are. Are you looking for an academic proofreading service, a business copyediting service or just a professional review of a piece of text you have have written? Choose from these three options and you have the basis to guide you in your search for help.
You must also consider what level of proofreading and editing you require. Do you just want proofreading for grammar and punctuation errors, or do you want a full and proper editing to improve lexis, syntax and style etc?
Key takeaway: Know what you want in terms of type of proofreading (academic, business, other) and level of editing (light proofreading all the way to heavy editing). Ensure that you clearly specify these points when you enquire/order.
The factors you may wish to consider
The cost of a service is, of course, a very important issue for most people. You want to find a rate that you can afford and that you are comfortable with. However, it is crucially important that you do not equate the lowest price with the best deal as it is often, in fact, not the case.
We regularly hear from upset consumers who have gone with some of the low cost proofreading options only to find them very disappointing and ultimately a waste of money. Many end up then going to a mid-priced or higher service after being left with a bitter taste from a cheap provider.
A proofreading review is a professional service and not a simple product that you choose based on the best price. Remember the old adage; you pay for what you get. That is, in general, very true in proofreading and editing, much like most professional services industries.
A proper and thorough proofreading and editing of a document takes time and care. Well qualified, experienced professionals time is not supposed to be too cheap. If it is, take it as a warning sign unless you have used the service before and trust it or have been referred by a friend, colleague or tutor.
Key takeway: Does the service they offer seem good value? That is not to say it is the cheapest but that you get the maximum reward for the money it costs. Check our aggregated review table to see what services are highest rated by users for being ‘best value’.
Experience and knowledge of your area/topic
When you are choosing a proofreader it can be advantageous if they have knowledge or experience with your writing subject/context. However, it may be less important than you may think. Often you may find it equally beneficial to find a versatile, English expert with a broad experience rather than a subject specialist, which can be harder to find an often incurs a premium fee.
Key takeway: consider both English language experts that have diverse proofreading experience, as well as subject specialists. Don’t rule either out and evaluate their offerings accordingly.
Knowledge of Your Language
We shall be discussing the English language here, but the same principles apply irrespective of your native language. You should seek an online proofreader whose native language is the same as yours. Proofreading is a different skill from writing web content or online articles. It demands a good knowledge of grammar and semantics, so that inappropriate usage can be identified and corrected.
The internet is full of self-professed ghostwriters, freelancers and proofreaders that claim to be competent in English, but unless that is their first language then they will struggle to provide a high standard of proofreading. It is easier to write a satisfactory article to one’s own standard of English than to proof a publication written by another person.
The vast majority of online proofreaders for whom English is not their first language tend not to do as good job in correcting those nuances of grammar and use of vocabulary (semantics) as an educated English-speaking proofreader. They may be able to provide passable short articles, but not to be able to correct errors in passages written by others.
Qualifications or Experience?
You might also prefer to employ the services of a professionally qualified proofreader who has taken and passed a course in this discipline. While such a professional might give you more confidence, a good knowledge of the language is still imperative, and overrides any qualification. This is not to downplay the abilities of those that have gained a proofreading qualification, but if that is not in your language then its relevance must be debatable.
Many highly qualified writers are capable for proofreading without a qualification in that specific line of work. They can correct errors in grammar, punctuation, sentence construction and spelling between American and UK usage, and will likely meet your needs perfectly without understanding all the nuances of professional proofreading. However, for a truly professional job, particularly for written work intended for offline publication, you should seek someone suitably qualified.
What Does Proofreading Mean to You?
Whether you are seeking professional proofreading of online content or a printed work, you must determine what type of service you are looking for. Many amateurs who profess to be professionals can proof online content by simply changing the errors they identify.
However, only a proofreader with online proofing experience in English will understand the difference between American and UK grammar and punctuation. Very few non-English speakers would know this difference, so make sure that your proofreader a) knows what version you want – USA or UK, and b) that they understand the difference.