When discussing proofreading services, it might sound like one of those tasks we can quickly do ourselves – it doesn’t really work out like this. As we’ve discussed before, editing your own work is asking for trouble when you need to be accurate and this is why demand for proofreading services is so high.
High demand isn’t the only challenge proofreaders need to deal with, though. In fact, you might be surprised by how much work goes into proofreading services, let alone a single piece of content. To put things into context for you, here are five of the biggest challenges proofreaders face on every proofreading services project.
#1: Removing all errors
When you proofread your own work, you probably skim through and try to correct every mistake in one go. However, this approach makes it more likely that you’re going to miss certain errors. Professional proofreaders offering proofreading services all have their own way of working but it’s generally good practice to tackle one problem at a time: eg: spelling, punctuation, grammar, etc.
First of all, this allows proofreaders to work through your content multiple times, which is important. It also means they’re only looking out for one type of error each time, rather than multiple different types that could confuse the situation.
On the final run, a professional proofreader will probably look out for any final mistakes that could have been missed, regardless of which type.
#2: Checking for accurate language
It’s tempting to think that a proofreader simply does a spellcheck and then passes things on. Sadly, this isn’t the case. A proofreader also needs to ensure that your writers are using language correctly, which can often include industry-specific vocabulary.
This is why it’s important to consider whether you need a proofreader with industry knowledge. You wouldn’t want someone with no medical knowledge proofreading the documentation for an anaesthetic machine, for example.
In these cases, it’s not the proofreader’s responsibility to make sure your content is accurate. You should have checks in place for this before and after the proofreading services process. However, it always helps to have a bit of extra from a proofreader with industry knowledge.
#3: The research process
No matter how much industry knowledge your proofreader has, they’ll always need to conduct research before and during your project. Thankfully, this is much easier today than it was a few decades ago and proofreaders can often do all their research online. Even still, it takes more than an internet connection to find the right information – especially when it comes to technical fields.
So, aside from industry knowledge, you want a proofreader with the research skills to get the info they need – that’s just good proofreading services practice.
#4: Making sure your intended meaning comes across
Words are a funny thing. Sometimes we put a sentence together that makes perfect sense to ourselves, but leaves others scratching their heads. This is one of the main reasons proofreading services are so important – because we can’t judge our own work objectively. Everything we write makes sense to ourselves before we even type the first letter and there’s no way for us to confirm 100% that this meaning will come across in the same way to readers.
So proofreaders also have to take on some editorial responsibility and make sure your intended meaning comes across. Which can be tricky with something as subjective as meaning.
#5: Maintaining style and voice
It’s inevitable that a proofreader is going to make changes to your content. The more changes they make, though, the more chance there is that your style and voice could be affected. A proofreader needs to do two things here: make sure it protects the style and voice in your content and ensure both are consistent throughout.
You don’t want a sudden change of tone in your text, especially when you’re dealing with heavily branded content. Consistency is important and a proofreader needs to check for any irregularities in your work while also protecting it from any changes they make.
These are challenges proofreaders will face on every project, which doesn’t even touch on the issue of proofreading translated content or other, more complex scenarios. As with any language service project, it’s important to analyse your specific needs and pinpoint which kind of professionals you need – eg: proofreaders with legal expertise or a proofreader and Portuguese translator duo.
If you need any advice on how to approach an upcoming proofreading services project, get in touch with our team of language experts today.