Should you hire a professional editor or proofreader to review your work? In most every case, the answer is yes. However, the more pressing question is whether you should hire an editor or hire a proofreader. The terms are similar but not the same. The truth is that someone who is smart, meticulous, analytical, and proficient in grammar can proofread your work. In fact, some companies who hire proofreaders don’t require a college degree, but they will usually always require that the individual pass some sort of test, which includes grammar and syntax rules.
My first “real” job out of college was as a proofreader at a large publishing company. The company published a weekly booklet with display ads and classifieds for merchandise, cars, jobs, real estate, home services, and more. I had to use a checklist to ensure that specific elements on the ads were consistent and correct. For instance, I had to check the spelling, price, contact info, color placement, ad size, and so forth.
Later on in my career, I became an editor and learned that correcting manuscripts and articles involved a lot more than the formulaic approach I had used in proofreading. A document, for instance, may require organizational, or flow, corrections but it may have no grammatical issues or vice versa. A diagnostic checklist, which I may use, is useful for helping writers to get a clear idea of their deficiencies, as well as strengths, but that’s it for using checklists. Editors must use their own knowledge of the writing process, researched information, and the writer’s intention in order to make suggestions or improvements on a document.
To help you determine whether you need a proofreader or editor, here is a general description of each one’s function:
- Review a document that is thought to be complete or already edited
- Check document for adherence to requirements
- Check document’s physical form or layout elements
- Correct spelling and punctuation
Example: checking a document for AP or MLA guidelines
- Stimulate ideas to get a writer started and when the writer is stuck
- Review a rough draft and subsequent drafts
- Refine and clarify ideas, removing extraneous text and even adding text that fulfills a specific intention
- Guide the entire production process from inception to finished product
Example: checking a document for coherence and unity
If you need a free diagnosis of your work to be edited or proofread, send a sample (5 pages or less) to us via email at email@example.com. For those looking to produce a polished, professional product, our rates for proofreading and editing are reasonable and competitive.