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How to Get the Most Out of Your Proofreader

When you use the services of a proofreader or editor, it’s important to make sure that you are fully prepared to pass your work over to them, including getting ‘the basics’ in place so you can get as much value from your professional proofreader as possible. I’ve put together a few tips for you to keep in mind that will help you:

  • Make sure you give clear, straightforward instructions on exactly how you want your work to be completed, such as correcting wrong spelling, typographical errors, punctuation and proof-editing (where the sentence written needs to be adjusted so that it is clear what the author of the piece of work means).

  • Make sure your proofreader knows beforehand how you are going to send the work, i.e., hard copy or via email. If emailing, make sure you specify the file format - usually, it’s a good idea to send as a Word document or a PDF. Your proofreader will need to know how he/she is going to receive the work, so that they are aware of when they can expect it and can also give you an estimate of turnaround time and the cost in sending it back to you.

  • Make sure that your proofreader has clear deadlines from the start. You may be writing a book or a shorter piece of work such as a thesis. Your proofreader will need to know when they are required to return your work to you, so that they can fit it into their schedule.

  • Make sure you let your proofreader know how much work you want them to do. Some people ask for their work to be ‘perfect’ before it is returned and others only require the proofreader to spot the obvious mistakes in the piece of work.

  • Make sure you supply your proofreader with all the materials necessary. I.e., style sheets, which should give full instructions on spelling, grammar, punctuation and format. Some companies and publishers have certain ways that they like their printed compositions to look - it’s worthwhile having one of these, but it’s not a problem if you haven’t got one.

  • Also, it is handy for your proofreader to know when you are going to be available to speak to if there should be any problems with the work which need to be discussed urgently.

  • Give your proofreader enough time to allow them to read your work several times over and do any changes necessary. They will need to read it to know what it is about. They will need to read it to make the necessary changes and then they will need to read it again to make sure it is as near perfect as it can be before they send it back to you.

  • Make sure that you are aware of pricing structures. Ask for an estimation in advance (try providing a sample of your work alongside this request) and details of any extras to prevent any surprises when the bill arrives. Don’t forget: expecting low pricing is out of the question if you expect your work to be of a professional standard.

You and your proofreader both want the work that is being produced to be as perfect as possible. Therefore, your proofreader may suggest changes in the words you have written, so that the target audience for your work gets the required information from what they are reading without confusion or boredom.

After the work has been completed, your proofreader may ask you to write a recommendation for them, so that they can put it on their website and social media channels. Of course, don’t feel obliged to recommend, but if you’ve received a great service then there’s not a proofreader out there that wouldn’t love to hear this!

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