I provide the following services:
- Substantive editing and rewriting
- Website editing and proofreading
Even if it’s only the local newsletter or an event programme, we’ve all sent something to press and realised after it’s in print that there’s a glaring mistake on the front page. That’s where the proofreader comes in. I will provide a fresh pair of eyes to check your proofs and make sure that there are no slips in spelling, grammar, or punctuation. But that’s not all a proofreader does. I will cross-check tables, graphs, and illustrations against the text. I will also check the layout for awkward page splits and incorrect numbering or headings. And I will make sure that the right font is used for all headings, text, and captions.
It’s important to remember that a proofreader should only make essential changes to the publication, so that there is minimal impact on the layout. If you think that your document needs more than this, then you should be thinking about having it copyedited.
When you’re ready to submit a manuscript to a publisher or you have created promotional material for your business, as copyeditor I’m here to make sure that your work says what you want it to say. I will think about whether your writing style suits the target audience. If it doesn’t, I will either change the style to match that audience or discuss with you what you need to do yourself to find the right tone for your readers. But I’ll always be careful to make sure that your voice as the author is not lost. This is your work not mine, and I won’t try to change things because I prefer to do things a different way. By the end of this process, your writing will be ready for publication, meaning that there won’t be expensive alterations after the material is typeset.
The level of copyediting required may be light, medium, or heavy, depending on the text. A light edit will focus mainly on
- errors in spelling, grammar, punctuation, and syntax
- ensuring consistency of style in spellings, hyphenation, dates, headings, capitalisation, etc
- correcting errors in cross-references
- checking figures, tables, references, and footnotes for style and against the information in the text
- marking up heading levels, figures, tables, and other features for the typesetter.
A medium edit is the most common level for text that you are about to submit to a journal or publisher. As well as the services listed above, it may include
- editing to conform with the client’s house style
- improving choice of language to ensure overall clarity, consistency, and readability
- ensuring that the style and language of the text is suitable for the intended audience
- keeping sentences and paragraphs to a sensible length
- identifying material that is missing, inconsistent, or in the wrong order
- querying possible factual errors
- raising questions about possible legal issues
- checking with the author about issues that cannot be resolved easily
- preparing preliminary material (title page, table of contents, list of illustrations, etc) if this does not exist.
Heavy copyediting is used for texts that need some restructuring to make the argument clear. Many authors whose first language is not English will find this level of edit helpful. It can also be useful for academic authors writing for a wider audience. As well as the services listed above, it may include
- rewriting to remove repetition, non sequiturs, excessive jargon, ambiguous statements, clumsy phrasing, and wordiness
- suggesting amendments such as expansions, deletions, and re-ordering to provide a more coherent and logical organisation
- supplying missing information (where possible).
Sometimes it’s difficult to stand back and admit that your manuscript needs restructuring. Or you might know that your writing doesn’t quite work, but you don’t know why. Or you may need to rework an existing document for a different audience. That’s where I can help, by restructuring your text to set everything in a sensible order, and making your language clear and your argument coherent.
Substantive editing (also called development editing) takes your manuscript and identifies the flaws in its structure. That might be the general flow of the text, or matter that has been included in several different places. This level of editing may involve extensive reconstruction: moving passages, deleting others, and rewriting those which your audience won’t understand easily.
Sometimes clients ask me for proofreading when what their material needs is copyediting. But you may not have the time or the budget for a copyedit now and proofreading later on. You may simply need me to ‘do whatever’s needed’ to make the material presentable. In cases like these, I will discuss with you exactly what you want me to focus on, what your budget is, and what services I can provide within that budget.
Website editing and proofreading
How often have you visited a website and found obvious errors in the text, links that go nowhere, and site navigation that makes no sense? Your website is your shop window for your customers, and it’s important that you present a professional front. I will check that the text on your site is accurate, that the navigation works sensibly, that pages are easy to read, and that graphics and multimedia files are displayed correctly, before the site is released to the general public.
Copyediting and proofreading a website require all the basic skills of the copyeditor or proofreader. But there are other skills that are specific to working with electronic texts. They include (but are not limited to)
- keeping paragraphs and sentences short
- writing concise but descriptive headings
- ensuring that the target of a linked word or phrase is clear
- checking functionality of multimedia files
- checking internal and external links
- providing alternative descriptions for graphics and other multimedia elements and links, so that the website works when graphics are turned off or a screen reader is in use
- checking usability over different platforms (PC, tablet, phone).