I wasn’t an English or journalism major in college, so if you’re looking for someone who was, keep looking. If, however, you are looking for someone who is well-spoken, knows how to spell, and goes above and beyond the call of duty by noticing even the smallest details, you’ve found her. A college professor once wrote on an essay (directly under the “A+”), “Erika, this is the best undergraduate paper I have ever read!”
How I Proofread and Edit
“Very competent and responsive provider that produced a high quality product and did not hesitate to ask questions for task clarification and to make recommendations for product improvement. Timely and cost effective!”
People truly familiar with the English language know that many of the rules we learned in elementary and high school are not necessarily completely correct. For example, you can start a sentence with the words “and” or “but.” And a dangling participle is not necessarily the end of the world; it is sometimes better to dangle a participle than try to fix it with an extra twelve words! This is especially true since dangling participles are verboten in Latin languages, not Germanic languages. We often forget that despite our reliance on so many Latin and Greek words, English is, at its heart, a Germanic language. I am also not nuts about eliminating passive tense. The reason teachers tell students not to use passive voice is because it is frequently difficult to figure out exactly what is being said in a sentence using passive voice. However, provided that the meaning of a sentence is clear, it is not absolutely necessary to butcher an author’s words in order to meet some arbitrary definition of “perfect grammar.” An example of an acceptable passive tense sentence is, “The package was delivered this afternoon.” Unless the package was delivered by an owl or the delivery agent is otherwise critical to the plot, it probably doesn’t matter to the reader exactly who delivered the package.
Unless instructed otherwise, I do my best to maintain the author’s original words. When I feel that a sentence in a text must be completely re-written for clarity, I often just place a comment next to it with one or more suggestions for replacement text or an explanation of why I feel that the sentence should be modified. I also keep in mind the target audience; a university-level reader is better able to extract meaning from a complex sentence than a typical fifth grader.
Basically, if a sentence makes sense and is clear, it will pass muster, even if Microsoft Word thinks there is a grammar issue.
I proofread for both US and non-US English readers. I normally maintain all (correct) spelling as originally written. If different spellings are used for the same words (e.g. if favorite is used on one page and favourite on another), I will inquire as to which spelling is preferred in order to maintain consistency.
I am a big fan of the serial comma, otherwise known as the “Oxford comma.” This refers to the comma used before the “and” or “or” in a list of three or more items. It is specified by the Chicago Manual of Style but not by the Associated Press Style Guide. I use it because I feel that it is often important to clarify exactly how the items in a list are separated. An excellent example is referenced on Wikipedia’s page on the serial comma in which they reference author Teresa Nielsen Hayden’s book dedication, “To my parents, Ayn Rand and God,” which seems to imply that her parents are Ayn Rand and God. She is, of course, presumably dedicating her book to three separate individuals (her two parents and Ayn Rand) plus God.
“I have used this proofreader before and I would use her again. She goes above and beyond what is expected to do a very good job.”
“As usual, another excellent job. If you want something carefully proofread with added effort, this is the provider to go to”
—Two comments made by Visions Research, Publisher
As a result of my technical background, I am also especially sensitive to the placement of double and single quotation marks. United States grammar dictates that ending punctuation be placed within the quotes, whereas technical tradition places punctuation outside of the quotes. For example, a sentence might read: “Oh my goodness!” she exclaimed. But in a technical book you would write: When you are prompted for a password type in “abc123”. The preceding sentence is technically incorrect because the period appears after the closing quotation mark, but if the period were within the quotes, it could cause confusion for the reader. If this bothers you, the sentence can be re-written to read: Type abc123 when you are prompted for a password. Re-writing it using an alternative font and moving the password to the middle of the sentence eliminates both the quote marks and the problematic period at the end. I tend to leave quotes in technical publications as written by the original author, unless instructed otherwise.
As I proofread, I also read for content if the material is within my realm of experience (I can’t fact check nuclear physics!). If I notice any glaring errors or inconsistencies, I will mark them as such for review.
Website Address Checking
I will check the validity of every website address referenced in a document. At the same time, I will also ensure that the address cited is the simplest address possible for the referenced page to ensure long-term validity. For example, the address http://yourwebsite.com/index.asp is unlikely to be as consistently available as http://yourwebsite.com/ (which will display the exact same page unless there is a problem on the referenced site) because the site owners may decide to switch away from ASP in the future to another technology, rendering the index.asp page invalid.
Character and Plot Consistency
“Very competent, hard worker with an attention to detail. This provider was a pleasure to work with; I would recommend them to anybody!”
For works of fiction I create character and plot charts to ensure that a character’s eyes do not mysteriously change color, a mother’s middle name does not change, etc. If the book I am reading is part of a series, I also offer chart creation for previous volumes to ensure that facts in the first book are the same as facts in the seventh or seventeenth book. I will also create genealogy charts for characters, if applicable.
Pricing varies based on the genre and quality of the text being proofread, as well as on the level of proofing and editing required. If a text has already been through five other editors and you just need someone to do a final once-over without all the bells and whistles, the rate would be significantly lower than if I am the first editor and you require all of the above services.
I can’t stand it when service providers refuse to give customers any sort of idea of their prices on a website, so I’ll give you a rough estimate. Children’s books and teen novels come in at around 1/2 to 3/4 of a cent per word, with a $25 minimum, while theses on rocket science come in at closer to 4 cents a word. All other books come in somewhere in between, and are priced competitively.
I am confident that you will be pleased with the quality of my work. If you would like a sample of my work based on your specific requirements, please send me a sample of your document. I will proofread several pages (depending on the length of the document) at no cost to you. Further, for first-time clients with longer documents, I will submit my work to you once the first 10% is completed (e.g. 20 pages for a 200 page document). If you are not happy with the quality of my work, you may cancel the contract with no payment due. I’ve never had anyone take me up on this offer!