As a professional proofreader and copy editor, I get asked this question a lot. In fact, so often that if I had a quid for every time I was asked, I’d be rich, and not need to do any proofreading at all!
You don’t always see your own mistakes
I’ve written essays and dissertations and got to the point where the words just swim in front of my eyes. I’ve been at the point where you’re so fed up of going over and over it that I’d do anything – clean the bathroom, fold the laundry, sort the sock drawer – to avoid having to look at it any more.
But if this is your final project, and a large proportion of your final grade, it’s worth getting it right. Small spelling and grammar errors could cost you vital marks, so a proofreader could be the second pair of eyes that makes the difference to your final grade.
A proofreader is impartial
I’m a writer myself, so I understand what writers go through. I’ve submitted my work to editors only for them to come back with a long list of amendments, and it’s tough at first – your writing is your baby! A proofreader will read your work impartially before it goes to those who will make the final judgements.
Sometimes we forget as writers that we are writing for an audience. Readers have a pretty short attention span – if we don’t make ourselves clear and easy to understand, start to skim or put it down altogether.
Not only do I proofread academic work, I also handle pitches and articles for publications, as well as advertising copy. I’m well practised at seeing quickly whether something is clear and well-structured, and I’ll know how to help you get there if there are issues. I’ll always explain any changes I’ve made and why, and the choice is always with you as to whether you accept them.
Writing in a second language?
When I had to write my first academic assignments in French, my grades suffered badly. I didn’t realise at first that it wasn’t the content that was the problem – it was the errors I made with language and sentence structure. Many of my proofreading clients are international students, so I’m used to working with students whose first language is not English. I’m always happy to talk through my edits either over Skype or by phone if required.
But won’t the spelling and grammar checker do it all for me?
I’ll just leave you with a couple of lines of this poem – this sums it up far better than I could!
ODE TO A SPELL CHECKER
by Jerrold H Zar
Eye halve a spelling check her
It came with my pea sea.
It plane lee marks four my revue
Miss steaks aye kin knot sea.
Eye ran this poem threw it,
Your sure reel glad two no.
Its vary polished in it’s weigh,
My checker tolled me sew.
Image is of a grammatically incorrect no smoking sign, taken from funnytypos.com via Colchester English Language Centre on Pinterest.