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EDITING AND PROOFREADING

There’s (almost) nothing worse than finding a nasty typo after hitting ‘send’.

Like discovering that you’ve described the ‘sparkling poo’ or ‘huge dick for entertaining’ in property write-ups (yes, these are real examples). Or a ‘below-knee amputation’ as a ‘baloney amputation.’

Fortunately, online errors are easily corrected. But what if you’ve spent truckloads of cash only to discover a glaring error in your printed materials?

In health and medical copy, accuracy is especially vital. Here’s a couple of typos courtesy of
nursebuff.com:

  • “Exam of genitalia reveals that he is circus sized.”
  • “While in ER, she was examined, X-rated and sent home.”
  • “Pt has hx of pickle cell anemia.”
  • “Vaginal packing out, Dr. Lee in.”

These might be good for a giggle, but discovering an error in your health, medical and biotech copy is no laughing matter.

That’s where I can help.

Even the best writers make mistakes. The truth is, it’s hard to spot them in your own work.
Getting a fresh pair of eyes across your work is a great investment.


Naturally, you want to present your business in the best possible light. Spelling mistakes, incorrect
grammar and poorly-constructed sentences can reflect badly on your brand – leading to lost
confidence with customers.


Enlisting the help of an editor and/or proofreader ensures that your business or organisation is
optimally presented and helps to avoid embarrassing or costly mistakes.

WHAT IS EDITING?


Editing is all about making things easy for your readers by ensuring your content makes sense and is
good to read. The editor puts themselves in the position of someone reading your text and does
whatever’s necessary to make it the best it can be.

This could include:

  • Changing the order of your content
  • Adding clear headlines or subheadings
  • Recommending diagrams or charts to aid understanding
  • Recommending additions to (or deletions from) the text for clarity
  • Rewriting sections of text for clarity and readability (ie making sure the writing ‘flows’ and is a pleasure to read)
  • Decreasing (or increasing) the complexity of language according to the intended readership
  • Fact-checking for accuracy
Hand working on paper with editing and proofreading markup

Editing is a skilled and crucial task and is more complex than proofreading. As such, editing will cost more than proofreading.

I have postgraduate editing training.

If you’ve got the content, I can make sure it’s scrubbed up and good to go.

WHAT IS PROOFREADING?


Proofreading happens after editing and involves a close reading of the text to find any mistakes that weren’t corrected at editing stage. Things like simple typos and spelling, punctuation and grammar errors can be fixed with proofreading.

It can also include checking over a document (online or in ‘page proofs’) to make sure the layout is consistent and error-free.

This could involve things such as:

  • Ensuring that pages in a document are numbered correctly
  • Ensuring images, graphs and charts are correctly labelled
  • Checking for consistency of fonts and headers
  • Making sure there’s no weird formatting eg a picture obscuring a block of text
  • Checking that no pages of a document are missing or doubled up.

A proofreader will often work to a ‘style guide’, which outlines important details about a document, such as: 

  • Spelling conventions (eg American or Australian English)
  • Rules for special characters (eg per cent or %; and or &)
  • Rules for numerals (eg one to nine written out, 10 upwards as numerals)
  • Conventions for spelling choices (eg program or programme).

By the way, if you don’t have a style guide, I can create one for you.

Proofreading does not include fact-checking or improving the readability of your content. It simply makes sure your text is free of language or typographical mistakes.

You might be wondering whether you need proofreading or editing, given the availability of spelling- and grammar-checking software.

Good question! These programs pick up many things. But…would they know you meant ‘sickle’ cell anaemia, NOT ‘pickle’ cell anaemia? Or that Dr Lee didn’t take the place of the vaginal packing?

Probably not. That’s where a professional proofreader or editor comes in, especially for health or medical content.

My background means I know medical terminology like the back of my hand. I know my circus-sized from my circumcised and my nemesis from my emesis. I know that, in health-speak, stool isn’t something you sit on (well, you might!) and that you have a sacroiliac joint, not a sacrilege joint. I know the difference between infidelity and infertility, and X-rays from X-rated.

I was also the nerdy kid at school who always got 50/50 in spelling bees and picked up every error in the newspaper (nothing’s changed, really). It’s a habit that makes for an annoying friend, but a great editor and proofreader.

DO YOU NEED EDITING, PROOFREADING – OR BOTH?


Here’s a few questions to help you clarify your needs.

Are you confident that:

  • Your text is clear and mellifluous (smooth and sweetly flowing, like honey)?
  • The tone of your message will resonate with your customers/readers?
  • Your message is consistent with your brand’s image and style?
  • Your message is sensitive, tactful and culturally-appropriate?
  • Your content sounds professional and trustworthy?
  • Your content is accurate and factual?
  • Your writing is as compelling and great to read as your competitors’?

If you answered ‘no’ or ‘I’m not sure’ to any of these, then editing would be your best choice. 

If you confidently answered ‘yes’ to everything, then proofreading should be all you need.

If you’d like some help deciding, I’m happy to discuss your needs. 

Get in touch to find out more.

Remember, finding errors in your own copy is harder than in someone else’s. And no spelling or grammar checker is foolproof. Get my eyes over your writing and publish with confidence!

Sophia is an honest, accountable and very helpful editor. I had the privilege of working with her and highly recommended her. Attention to detail, thoughtful and professional. It was a pleasure.

OLIVIA MIHALJEVICH

BABY GOODNESS FROM THE HEART

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