What is proofreading and how does proofreading work?
Ever wondered how some documents seem to be perfect, others leave you feeling confused, or worse – you find yourself distracted or chuckling over mistakes? That’s proofreading in action.
If you’re thinking “How does proofreading work?”, here’s a quick definition to get you up to speed. Proofreading involves combing through every detail of a document, ensuring that each word, punctuation mark, and sentence flows with unerring precision. Not to be confused with editing (which turns a draft into a polished, professional document that flows), proofreading ensures that the content is error-free. Think of editing as the stylist; proofreading, a quality controller.
Why use a proofreader?
Get it perfect
If you’re thinking you can proofread your own work, think again. After spending hours crafting your document, your brain thinks it knows what’s coming next and will start to play tricks on you. This means it skips ahead, so you don’t see glaring typos, missing words, extra words and other errors. Think of a professional proofreader as that extra set of eyes which see what you can’t and help ensure your documents are as good as they can be.
Avoid embarrassing mistakes
In a digital age, one small error can spiral into a PR nightmare. Take the Australian Defence Force, for example, which came under fire in 2011 after issuing service personnel in the Middle East with embroidered badges identifying them as belonging to the ‘Royal Australlian Navy’. Ouch.
Especially when your content is for public consumption, having it proofread can save you from costly and embarrassing missteps. Be it annual reports or public statements; precision matters.
Mistakes can be costly
Consider this – rectifying an error post-publication, be it reprinting or redistributing online, is not just a logistical nightmare but also a costly endeavour. There’s the time taken to identify how and where the error has occurred, rewriting, proofing, reprinting and so on – it all adds up. Proofreading is your cost-effective shield against such unexpected expenditures.
What do proofreaders look for?
Clients often marvel at the number of mark-ups our team highlights. We typically make 10 mark-ups on average per page – in a 100-page document, that’s around 1,000 mark-ups. But it’s not about quantity; it’s about quality. Every mark-up signifies a step closer to perfection.
If you’re wondering “How does proofreading work?”, this is our approach. We treat every document like a puzzle, and we ensure that every piece fits just right. This means:
- Perfecting punctuation, ensuring grammar is on point and catching elusive typos
- Delving into the finer details, spotting and rectifying inconsistencies, such as a rogue capitalisation, stray hyphen, or bullet points that have lost their way
- Addressing inconsistent formatting issues, such as erratic line spacing, unexpected paragraph breaks, and the often-overlooked widows and orphans
- Flagging content that doesn’t make sense, is wordy, or is inconsistent with the overall style and tone. Remember, a proofreader’s eyes are for polishing and perfecting, not to rewrite – unless, of course, that’s part of the brief.
What type of documents do corporate proofreaders proofread?
At Proof Communications, government entities, listed companies, and private corporations approach us with public-facing documents for proofreading. These include annual reports, RAPs, sustainability reports, financial reports, product disclosure statements, tenders and proposals and modern slavery statements.
Timeframes: quality over haste
To carefully proofread a document and identify errors takes precision and it’s not a task which should be rushed. How long it takes to proofread a document depends on a number of factors, such as how polished the document is and the length and complexity of the document and graphic design. While some may arrive in good shape, others require more mark-ups, which takes more time.
As a general rule of thumb, at Proof Communications we find that long, complex documents like annual reports usually clock in at about 8-10 pages per hour. Therefore, if your report is 150 pages in length, that would take around 15-18 hours, or 2-2.5 days. This would allow enough time for a thorough proofread, ensuring that no errors slip through the cracks.
The investment in proofreading
Although some approach proofreading as more of an optional luxury, in reality, it’s a necessity that safeguards your content’s integrity. The cost? It’s varied, contingent on the document’s length and complexity. Expect to pay A$25-30 per page for proofreading of a graphically-designed, lengthy or complex report.
But one thing’s for certain: the ROI on proofreading is invaluable, both in terms of money saved and reputation upheld.
Ready for proofreading?
Proofreading is not merely a process; it’s a commitment to excellence. In a world inundated with content, make sure yours stands out – not for errors, but for eloquence and accuracy. At Proof Communications, our professional proofreaders are sticklers for perfection, proofreading blogs, annual reports, tenders and more.
Reach out here or on 02 8036 5532 or 0448 566 377 and let your content shine with Proof Communications’ expert touch.