What do proofreading services offer?
Proofreading is the final polish that will make your writing shine. It is critical to the success of a thesis, essay or dissertation – or any piece of writing, for that matter. It is the final and most important step in preparing a manuscript. A manuscript that has not been thoroughly proofread is one whose ideas do not come across well. This is where proofreading services are so valuable.
Proofreading a thesis or dissertation means searching for, and correcting, basic but significant mistakes in the text. It is a special type of reading – a painstaking search for grammar errors, citations, punctuation mistakes, spelling mistakes, word choice, and omitted words or word endings. On their own, these mistakes are relatively minor. But when there are many of them, it makes for a difficult, even annoying read.
The more one eliminates these weaknesses, the stronger the writing becomes. A good proofreader will find these mistakes and correct them, and improve word choice. The result is a significant improvement in quality, clarity and readability. It means less work – and a far more pleasant experience – for the reader.
Academic proofreading in Ireland
There is a relative lack of academic proofreading in Ireland. This means that a proofread thesis stands out from the crowd and gains a higher mark than it would have had it not been proofread. How higher depends on the amount of issues the proofreader finds and corrects. The more problems the proofreader identifies and resolves in a thesis, the greater the improvement in the mark.
The absence of quality proofreading in a thesis causes a similar lack in the reader’s ability to appreciate the paper’s content. Errors in spelling and grammar interfere with the content. The way an academic paper looks affects how a reader judges it. A paper the writer has not proofread correctly can make the ideas it presents seem incoherent. Errors throughout a thesis are distracting and annoying. They show a lack of care on the writer’s part for his/her writing. A well-proofread thesis, on the other hand, sends out a positive message that the writer values the reader as much as the writing.
What we do (not just quality proofreading!)
So you have written your manuscript. It is important to you that it looks the part. In that case, you need a fresh pair of eyes. That means a proofreader who is not just sufficiently experienced, but competent enough to see any weaknesses and eliminate them. You have come to the right place!
But quality proofreading services are not all that we offer. Irish Writing Services can also provide you with a critical analysis of the content of your manuscript. Let’s say there is a sentence or paragraph whose meaning is unclear or contradictory. Or perhaps a point in the text needs to be made more clearly. We will always draw your attention to these important issues.
We will also point to where a sentence or paragraph would be better included in a different part of the document. And we will draw attention to places where a point needs to be developed or elaborated upon to strengthen the argument. Together these changes will greatly improve the overall flow of the document and make it far more readable than the original version.
At Irish Writing Services we make and highlight all proofreading and editing changes using Microsoft Track Changes. This useful feature of Word highlights deleted words and symbols, formatting changes and comments. Alternatively, we can highlight any changes in the way you prefer. Either way, you have total freedom to accept or reject each change we make.
We also provide you with a ‘clean’ version of the edited manuscript. Here, all the changes and mark-ups we have made are incorporated but not visible. This version enables you to read the edited text without the distraction of a sea of brightly illustrated changes.
Contact us here for a quote, a free consultation and some practical advice!
Proofreading tips and tricks
Start by not proofreading it.
Before you do any proofreading at all, start by checking your formatting. Are your paragraphs correct? Make sure your spacing and fonts are consistent. Are your margins justified? What about your numbers, headings and sub-headings–are they in the right order?
Starting by ordering your work allows you to ease gently into the action. It gives you a quick, visual overview of what you have written. Once you have completed the formatting, you will have the motivation to focus on the proofreading itself. If you don’t, or you are too tired, there’s no need to worry – there is always tomorrow!
Be fresh when you start
Proofreading when you’re tired is never a good idea. That’s because effective proofreading of any document one has written is an intense endeavour. You have to focus on every word as you go through it, and if you are not attentive enough, you will miss numerous small but essential mistakes. When you are fresh and calm, it is far easier to get into ‘flow’, and the task seems far less burdensome than it would otherwise. Although mornings usually work best for proofreading a thesis or other document, if you’re a nocturnal type, you may find the late hours work better for you. Whatever time you choose to proofread it, make sure you give your project the time and energy it deserves. If it is a large project, such as PhD thesis proofreading, take your time. Rushing will only make it a half-baked effort.
Similarly, never try to start proofreading on the same day you finish writing – the creative side of the project needs time to rest before the critical eye of thorough proofreading takes over.
Concentration is, like many things in life, a question of momentum. Anything that distracts or interrupts you while you are proofreading will make it harder to re-focus and do the job properly. The most persistent source of distraction is your mobile, with its blizzard of messages and notifications. Turn it off while you are proofreading and you will eliminate a large number of likely distractions. Avoid the temptation of checking your emails, too.
Print it out
Proofreading from a printed copy of what you have written is always a good idea. You will spot mistakes far more quickly than by working on screen. The printed version is easier to read, and you can add comments and observations with greater ease while you proofread it.
Read it aloud
A useful way to get a much clearer perspective on your thesis or project is to read it out loud. The reason is that the brain processes sound in a very different way to how it does words. Reading something aloud is a formidable proofreading technique that gives you a fresh pair of eyes–or, in this case, ears.
Reading your work aloud enables you to quickly focus on aspects of what you have written, such as proofreading for spelling mistakes, essay structure, issues regarding sequence, overly long sentences, and the need for better development of your ideas. Read it aloud slowly, and pay attention to the words. You are likely to get a sense of how the words and sentences blend and, sometimes, collide. Furthermore, you can take short, specific notes so that you can go back later and make whatever changes you have noticed are necessary. You will see a radical improvement on your previous draft.
Alternatively, if you want a second opinion while you proofread it, read your thesis or project aloud to someone else. That person will not be as close to the work as you are and will, therefore, have a fresher perspective. They will notice errors that you haven’t, as well as sentences or arguments that are not as clear as they should be.
Keep an eye out for homonyms
A homonym is a word that is pronounced the same as, or similarly to, another word, but has a different meaning. Usually a spellchecker won’t pick them up, so you have to look out for them. Examples include “compliment,” which has a different meaning to “complement;” “aloud,” which is not the same thing as “allowed;” and “altar,” which is part of a church, as opposed to “alter,” meaning to change. Other homonym-related mistakes that we frequently come across include:
Reverse your thinking
How do you proofread each word as a single unit, without being distracted by the context? By reading your thesis or project backwards! It’s surprising how many more errors you will find when you are undistracted by meaning and context. Admittedly, this method takes a lot of patience, so it’s not to everyone’s taste. Nonetheless, as proofreading tips go, it’s pretty useful, particularly for a final proofreading.
Reduce the layout size
As we have seen, one of the keys to carrying out thorough proofreading is looking at what you have written in a different light or situation. So why not proofread it as if it was a newspaper article? Studies have proved that the best line-lengths for reading are 3.6 to 4 inches. Lines that are longer entail greater movement of the eyes, causing concentration to waver. Shorter lines can help you to see errors more easily. We have found this very helpful for a final proofreading, especially for a long document such as a PhD or Master’s thesis.
Avoid the grocer’s apostrophe
Don’t forget that the apostrophe is never used to form plurals. This very common mistake is known as “the grocer’s apostrophe” from its frequent occurrence in grocers’ pricing signs. It is an apostrophe oddly inserted just before the final s and meant to indicate a plural but instead making a possessive. Examples include ‘apple’s,’ ‘orange’s,’ and any number of other fruits and vegetables. And that’s just the grocers’ mistakes!
Check your facts, figures, dates and names
If it’s been many months since you wrote your thesis, time will have moved on – but the writing won’t. References to last year, next year or this year may now be out of date. So, it’s important to keep an eye on time-sensitive events. Also, double-check that the facts, figures and statistics you have included are correct. You should also double-check the spelling of any names you have added.