Any document intended for publication or submission (including academic papers, admissions essays, cover letters, CVs and resumes, grant proposals, novel drafts, and many other kinds of writing) can benefit from proofreading. Although they might differ in their content, objective, and readership, what all these documents have in common is that they will invariably contain at least a few minor errors that must be corrected before being submitted or published. This article provides an overview of why proofreading is an essential step to finalizing your written work, and how proofreading and editing companies like Wordvice Editing Service apply universal proofreading standards to different kinds of documents.
Why do my documents need proofreading?
One of the biggest problems with work intended for publication is objective errors in language and formatting. Substandard quality of language in a journal manuscript can cause it to be rejected by the journal editor. Multiple punctuation and grammar errors in your admissions essay can lead admissions officers to pass on your application. Formatting and mechanics errors in your resume or CV can make potential employers think twice about hiring you. Proofreaders and editors find and fix these grammar, punctuation, and mechanics errors and make your paper perfect. The takeaway message is that proofreading is important for any document, regardless of its objective and no matter how much experience the writer has.
Many authors choose to proofread their own work rather than give it to a peer or professional editor. But trusting your written work to a professional who truly understands the rules of English language and who can identify and correct any writing or language errors in the text is almost always a smart decision. Even the most seasoned research authors, essayists, and novelists hand their writing to professional editors and proofreaders to catch any mistakes they might have missed while drafting their work.
How do editing services proofread documents?
A competent freelance proofreader will of course know which revisions to make to your work when they proofread. But how do online proofreading services compare? Do they offer the same thorough revision of all language and punctuation elements in your work? How do online editing services apply proofreading standards consistently to correct all errors throughout a document? After all, some of these companies employ hundreds of editors working from all over the world. Is there a process for identifying and fixing certain objective errors in the writing? What are the specific issues that proofreaders look for when revising a given document? Let’s see if we can answer some of these questions by looking at a few documents often intended for publication, submission, or application and see how a reputable online editing service (like Wordvice) proofreads them.
Proofreading in academic papers
Before a research paper or academic manuscript is submitted to an academic journal, it goes through several stages of correction, starting with content editing, following with line editing, and finally receiving copyediting and proofreading. By the time a manuscript is ready for proofreading, all content and style errors should have been fixed, and all that is left before publication is this final proofread.
Therefore, your proofreader will mostly focus on the abstract, the body of the text, the captions for your any figures and graphs, and any additional sections that might contain errors (in other words, the entire paper). Here are some of the objective errors your proofreader will be looking for:
- Typos and misspellings in the overall writing and in any key terms and phrases
- Capitalization errors in key terms
- Formatting issues in the parenthetical citations and references
- Punctuation errors (especially in the Methods and Results)
- Grammar and syntax errors (especially in the Introduction and Discussion)
As you can see, although minor errors can exist anywhere in your research paper (unless you have the power to write flawlessly at all times), a competent proofreader will be on the lookout for specific kinds of writing errors in sections where authors tend to make these mistakes most often. Proofreading your academic paper is crucial if you want to publish your work in a reputable journal.
Proofreading for admissions essays
Admissions documents include personal essays for university and college (including the Common App Essay), Statements of Purpose for graduate school, cover letters for professional or academic positions, and letters of recommendation, among others. Although the most important features of these documents are the way the narrative is told and the impact that they have on their target reader, it is also crucial that your essay be free of errors in language or punctuation so that your application is not denied. Proofreaders will look for the following errors in these documents:
- Repetitive information and redundant terms
- Capitalization and formatting errors (especially in course titles and academic disciplines)
- Run-on sentences and sentence fragments
- Improper or misapplied terms
Content editing and line editing are perhaps most fundamental kinds of revision to apply to these documents, but proofreading is also needed to ensure your admissions essay will have maximum impact and help you get into your school or academic position of choice.
Proofreading for business documents, CVs, and resumes
Business documents (including reports, brochures, and marketing content), along with CVs and resumes, contain densely packed details written to be as direct and efficient as possible while still getting the essential information across to the reader. Proofreading business documents means paying close attention to the terms used and ensuring proper structure and formatting—especially for CV/resumes. Editors and proofreaders who edit these documents are especially attuned to the following common errors:
- Repeated use of the same verbs in bulleted lists (CV/resumes)
- Inconsistent sentence structure and verb tense (CV/resumes)
- Misaligned items. inconsistent indentation, and improper formatting of dates (CV/resumes)
- Inconsistent fonts and typography (CV/resumes)
- Sentence fragments and run-on sentences (business documents)
- Spelling and capitalization errors
- Incorrect and inconsistent punctuation
Because professional and business documents need to impress your readers and push them to make a big move—like hiring a new employee or purchasing your product or service—they need to be as sharp and clean as possible, and this is only possible through careful proofreading.
Make sure your work has maximum impact
Proofreading is unarguably a necessary step in preparing any document to make the desired impact. But not just anyone can identify and correct every error: it takes a professional proofreader to fix errors to a degree where it your writing can be deemed “error free.” You can of course do your own proofreading (and you should!), or you could entrust it to a friend or peer (which is also a great idea!). But if you are serious about creating written work that is compelling and will truly impress your readers, your best bet is to choice a freelance proofreader or proofreading and editing service that has the best editors and proofreaders capable of revising all kinds of documents.
Wordvice Editing Service has over 500 editing and proofreading experts with years of editing experience and qualifications in nearly 2,000 academic subdisciplines. Our admissions essay editors have attended top schools and know what it takes to prepare an application essay for college or university. And our business and resume editors and proofreaders will help you craft the most impactful writing to achieve your business and professional goals.