Have you heard of proof-editing? I hadn't either...
I hadn’t come across the term 'proof-editing' when I started training as a proofreader and then a copy-editor. But now it’s a thing. Especially if you want a one-stop-shop service that combines the initial copy-edit with the final proofread. This suits some budgets and timescales, and it seems to work well for many of my clients. It is essentially a blend of proofreading and copy-editing. Other packages are available, of course, to suit your project. Here is my understanding of what proof-editing means and how that translates into my standard service offering:
1) I will fix any errors and typos. I will worry about its/it’s for you. And their/there/they’re. And I’ve got you covered with your/you’re too. I will make sure you don’t mean ‘causal’ when you say ‘casual’. Or ‘affect’ when you write ‘effect’. I will factor in your context (something that AI really struggles with) when working with your words. And I will remove rogue apostrophes, so we don’t have any embarrassing mistake’s or unhappy customer’s. You know how hard it was for me to write that, don’t you.
2) I will check your grammar and punctuation and make sure that you’re bossing it like a word nerd. You won’t find any dangling participles or misplaced modifiers in your corrected text. ‘Not only’ will be perfectly balanced with ‘but also’. And there won’t be a comma splice in sight, unless it’s unavoidable.
3) I will explain things in comment boxes, so you learn while you go through my suggestions. And I will query things that need to be clarified.
4) Deep breath... I will undertake and do my very best to endeavour to de-fluff (simplify to the best of my ability) the language, where it is deemed necessary and right and correct to do so in the best interests of the client. You see? Why use 50 words when you can use 30? Why use a long word when you can use a short one? I love nothing more than a good de-fluff!
5) And, Of Course, I Will Remove Any Rogue Capital Letters. Let’s reserve those for when they are really needed, as they can make a text look really cluttered.
6) Numbers 4) and 5) will make your reader happy, I promise.
7) I will ensure that everything is consistent, including formatting and style. You won’t find a mixture of UK and US spellings or double and single quotation marks. You will either have Oxford commas or you won’t. Figure and table numbering will be sequential.
8) I will correct obvious content errors. Myanmar will replace Burma. And you won’t find Paris in England. And 2 + 2 won't equal 5. AI will not see these types of error by the way.
9) I will compile a simple style sheet, if needed. This is useful when working on a chapter at a time in a longer work. This way, we will both remember to write ‘organise’ or ‘organize’ in future chapters. Or whether we are writing numbers as figures or words. And other useful things like that.
10) And – a word about customer service, which is a BIG one for me – I will respond to your emails quickly. If you leave me a voicemail, I will call you back. If you want to have a video chat, that’s fine too. When you need an answer, you will get it. Not a call centre, chatbot or automated message in sight. You won’t be put on hold or asked to identify yourself with a password that you can’t remember. I will know exactly who you are and what we are working on.
In an increasingly impersonal and fractured world, humanity and good service matter more than ever. It's all about the small things. And just being nice.