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Proofreaders and Copy Editing

Proofreaders, also known as copy editors, correct a manuscript for errors in spelling, punctuation, grammar, and usage. While spell check programs continue to become more sophisticated, they still have severe limitations that make review by a skilled human eye a must when you are developing a book, an article slated for publication in a major periodical, or a research paper.

The best copy editors go far beyond the technical aspects mentioned above. They also can offer valuable advice on stylistic matters, including word choice and sentence structure. Working from a readerís perspective, they will suggest improvements in the organization of the material, and give you tips on how to make your writing more effective. If you are producing a work of fiction, you also should consider seeking advice from someone with expertise in plot and character development, who will assess your success in creating a work that will appeal to readers.

Services such as these are now available over the Internet, from people to whom you can e-mail a file with the writing that you wish to be proofread or critiqued. Before engaging the services of any proofreader, copy editor, or story consultant, there are several things to consider.

  • You should be confident that they guarantee protection for your work against plagiarism or other unauthorized usage.
  • You also should see references. In particular, if they cite certain books as examples of their work, you should track down copies and look to see if the authors acknowledge their assistance in forewords or postscripts. Then, browse the books themselves to judge the quality of writing in the finished product. If you think that the work is poorly written, keep looking for another proofreader or copy editor.
  • Also understand the cost of the services,

    how much you are expected to pay in advance versus at the completion of work, and what recourse you have if you are dissatisfied. As the services go beyond spelling, punctuation, and grammar to more stylistic assessments, expect to pay more.

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