Why should you hire a proofreader? I’ve already written an article all about why you should hire a copyeditor. Do you really need to hire a proofreader as well?
The answer is yes! Proofreading is an essential step in the editing process. Don’t skip it!
The good news is, the same person can copyedit and proofread for you (hello), so you don’t have to hire two different people. But keep in mind that you will have this same person perform 2 rounds of edits on your manuscript.
Below are some of the specific reasons why you should hire a proofreader. But first, let’s review briefly what a proofreader does not do.
What is outside the realm of proofreading?
The terms “editing” and “proofreading” are often misused, or used vaguely, whether it’s intentional or not.
Since I offer both copyediting and proofreading, I’ve made it my mission to help new writers understand the difference between the two.
I’ve created a handy chart with the major differences:
As you can see, a proofreader is not here to tell you that your argument doesn’t flow, that your ideas don’t make sense, or that your case is weak. A proofreader is also not here to tell you that your unique writing voice is all over the place (think of an actor who’s done a shoddy job imitating a regional accent) or that some aspects of your usage are inconsistent (for example, switching constantly between active voice and passive voice).
There is a time and place for correcting these items. This job usually falls on the copyeditor (and, for some items, the line editor).
So what exactly does a proofreader do? Below are 4 reasons why you should hire a proofreader.
1. Fixes specific mistakes in your writing
Have another look at the chart above. You can see that the responsibilities of your copyeditor and proofreader overlap in the following 3 areas:
- Repetitive or missing words
- Spelling, grammar, punctuation, capitalization
For more specific information on how these 3 areas can be improved, click here.
So why do you need a proofreader to look these over if your copyeditor already did it?
A proofreader is going to make sure that the copyeditor didn’t miss anything! Since the copyeditor is also looking for logic and clarity of ideas, and consistency of voice and usage, they may not be quite as focused on the above 3 areas. If your proofreader is not the same person as your copyeditor, any lingering mistakes will jump out more easily.
But keep in mind that a copyeditor’s job is not to make your manuscript completely error-free. That is the job of the proofreader. So your manuscript cannot achieve “perfection” through copyediting alone. It’s totally fine to hire the same person to copyedit and proofread for you. The safeguard is in keeping these 2 rounds of edits distinct from each other. Your copyeditor-proofreader will then find and fix the remaining errors on their second round of editing.
2. Adheres to style guide
Here is another area both your copyeditor and proofreader will monitor, but I didn’t mention it in my previous article, so I should explain more here!
Your publisher might ask you to adhere to an established style guide, such as the Chicago Manual of Style or the Associated Press Stylebook. It is therefore extremely important that your proofreader know this beforehand so they can review your writing for any nonconformity.
(If you want to learn more about some of the standard style guides, click here to read my article all about the basics of AP Style, or leave a comment below if you would like me to do an article on CMOS.)
On the other hand, you might be publishing your manuscript yourself. In that case, you probably don’t care about adhering to any standard style guide. (Or maybe you do, if you’re a nerd like me!) I will say, however, that having some style specifications you can share with your proofreader will ensure that your writing stays consistent, which is always better for your readers.
You could develop your own unique style guide to help you achieve consistency (ask me for help). Even some publishers have a “house style guide” with their own specs for authors. Whatever the style guide, pick one. Or develop one. Stick with it. Update it if necessary. And share it with your proofreader!
3. Cross-references changes from copyedit
A major benefit of hiring a proofreader is that they will look to see whether the copyeditor’s changes were made successfully. What does this mean?
When a copyeditor is reviewing your manuscript, the changes they are making appear as suggestions in your word processor. You as the author get final say over whether to accept the changes or not.
That leaves room for error. You might miss a couple of suggestions and forget to accept (or reject) them. Or you might reword certain passages. Any typing you do in the text after your copyeditor has made suggestions means it must be looked over again for errors.
That’s the job of a proofreader. They check the current version of your manuscript against the copyeditor’s edited version. Were changes made successfully? Your proofreader will take a magnifying glass to everything! It’s just another one of the failsafe benefits of hiring a proofreader.
4. Ensures that the entire manuscript is error-free
The major job of any proofreader is just to correct any remaining errors in your manuscript. Yes, this encompasses everything I have spoken about above and more.
Don’t forget that your proofreader will also check your front and back matter, image captions, and tables.
I just want to drive home the point that a proofreader is your last line of defense—not your copyeditor (unless they happen to be the same person performing 2 rounds of edits).
You still get to approve the proofreader’s edits. If you want to be on the super safe side, you can even ask your proofreader to review your manuscript a second time (usually for a surcharge).
But the point is, once your manuscript has been reviewed by a proofreader, you are DONE editing and you get to move on to publishing, distributing, marketing—and selling!
Do you know why you should hire a proofreader?
When I first started my business, I offered only proofreading. But after reviewing my clients’ manuscripts, I soon came to realize that a grand majority of writers need more than just proofreading—they need copyediting, too!
The scope of copyediting may be broader than that of proofreading. But don’t shortchange your writing by hiring only a copyeditor and assuming that you’re done editing. Proofreading is absolutely an essential step in editing. Responsible for the final round of editing, your proofreader WILL find all the lingering errors in your manuscript. And you can take it from me: there ARE errors.
Do not take the risk of publishing your writing without first hiring an experienced proofreader to make sure that there are no more errors left after copyediting! Contact me today for a proofreading quote (or a copyediting quote—or even a package rate for both!)