What does a proofreader do and why do you need to use one? My work begins when the editor has had his or her say and the manuscript is almost ready to be sent out into the wild.

I’ll be looking for the following things:

  • Spelling mistakes
  • Typos
  • Punctuation errors
  • Grammatical errors
  • Missing or duplicate words
  • Tautology
  • Incorrect or inconsistent tenses

I’m hoping by this time that the style of the work has been set, but I keep a sharp eye out for, say, inconsistencies in the way dates, times and numbers are written; whether book, TV programmes and films are consistently italicised; is the spelling US or British?

The editor will have already worked their magic but while I’m proofreading a manuscript I’m often called upon to use my copy-editing skills too. That part of the job has me on the alert for pet phrases, plot anomalies and inconsistencies and errors in continuity. I will mark these up and include them in the report I send with every completed manuscript.

It’s no good getting your work proofread before you’re happy with it – I should come in when all the edits and rewrites are complete. And if you’re tempted to rewrite a section or two after my work is done, please have the new paragraphs professionally proofread before you hit the ‘send’ button!

It’s tempting to have a friend read over your work – what a money saver! It’s false economy though. Your friend is doing the job as a favour and is unlikely to spot everything that an trained eye will see. Giving your own work the final once-over is also a mistake. You’ve lived and breathed your manuscript for months, maybe years and you’re too close to it to spot the errors.

Using the services of a proofreader is money well spent. Check out my Testimonials page if you’re still uncertain!