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A Guide: Copy that requires proofreading, and why:

Whether in the commercial, corporate or personal world, one standard remains true: that of good grammar and spelling in copy. No one enjoys receiving a document riddled with spelling errors and poor grammar, and it can certainly leave a bad taste in the mouth of someone who you may be trying very hard to impress. This is where proofreading comes in. You may be wondering, however, which types of copy should undergo editing, so in just a few minutes of reading, check out our guide on documents that need proofreading.

 

Proofreading by Better Language Company

Before we launch into our comprehensive guide on which types of copy need proofreading and why, you may wish to understand a bit more about our company and the resources we offer. When you enlist the services of proofreading and translation companies such as us at the Better Language Company (BLC), you can rest assured knowing that your important copy will land perfectly polished in the hands of the reader. There will be no need to fret over the possibility of your copy becoming a laughing stock, and you will be able to submit your work with total confidence and reap the rewards.

The 3 main types of proofreading

Before launching into our guide of which types of copy actually require proofreading, it may be helpful to know which types of proofreading currently exist. Whatever copy you present to a proofreading company, know that it will fall into one of the following categories:

Academic proofreading

There are various types of academic proofreading. As an academic submitting copy for proofreading, it is likely you will be submitting one of the following:

  • Thesis
  • Research paper
  • Journal article
  • Research proposal

Each piece of copy is inherently different and will require specific rule applications. This is namely due to the fact that there are several main academic publications, all of which have their own style and publication venue. Proofreading for academic work must be performed by a competent professional who understands clearly the different nuances of citation styles, for example: APA, Chicago and MLA. In the case of academic writing which includes a plethora of citations that need to be crystal clear, your trusted proofreader must be a sucker for the details, and able to pick up the slightest error in commas, periods and even brackets.

While having the perfect knowledge of grammar rules and spelling, your proofreader must know:

  • When to appropriately utilise footnotes
  • The formatting rules governing headlines and sections according to the style guides (APA, Chicago, MLA)
  • How to create tables and figures in the above style guides

Bilingual and translation proofreading

Translated copy needs to undergo a particular type of copy-editing. This is because translated texts come with different types of errors than copy presented in English.

English copy-editing usually focuses mainly on common errors in writing, such as the mishaps that occur with the misuse of their/they’re/there or even to/too. On the other hand, texts that have been translated often come with a host of grammatical errors and questionable vocabulary.

Proofreaders that focus on translation and bilingual copy-editing know that besides the checking of grammar and spelling, they need to be certain that the translated text aligns well with the original copy. This means that those responsible for translation and bilingual proofreading must have a strong grasp of both languages (that in which the old copy is written as well as that of the new language in which the copy have been translated). They will also need to be aware of the common errors in translation that frequently occur in the process.

For example, when texts have been translated from Korean to English, there is an error pertaining to brackets – [] – that frequently occurs. While titles or headlines are characteristically placed in brackets in the Korean language, English copy favours the use of underlining or emboldening titles to create the same effect. A seasoned copy-editor will be able to pick up this error immediately.

Print media proofreading

Perhaps one of the most well-known forms of proofreading, print media copy-editing applies to copy that is printed in newspapers, books and magazines. Those responsible for checking and editing print media analyse grammar, spelling as well as punctuation. Further, they are also readily able to substitute underwhelming word choices for more interesting options. There is also another huge element to print media proofreading – that of format.

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Proofreaders in this industry must also pay special attention to margins, text size, spacing as well as font choice. This makes sense, seeing as print media needs to look picture perfect when it is set out on a page and all is said and done. Where an extra space on a piece of online copy may not be noticeable, the same error in a piece of printed copy will stick out like a sore thumb. For this reason, print media proofreaders are prone to actually printing out the copy and editing them on the physical page before making changes or finalising the draft as a final piece ready to be printed.

Why proofread academic copy

Now that you have a better understanding of the different types of proofreading and where your particular copy would fit in, it is time to explore exactly why proofreading of academic copy is so crucial. Academics in the journal publication industry know well that submitting and publishing articles frequently is the way to stay relevant and ensure that their scientific work and research makes an impact. Even those who submit articles on a weekly basis know that submitting clear, precise copy is of the utmost importance.

Higher-ups in the world of academic publications may show no mercy when confronted with clumsy text filled with errors and incorrect referencing. Failure to have your academic work proofread by a seasoned proof-reader could lead to your piece of hard work going unseen by the world and wasted. Further, there are many academics who speak only one language but desire to submit their studies to international journals. In this case, the copy must not only be proofread, but also translated and copy-edited once again.

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As you can tell, this is quite the process, and a hard-undertaking should you set out on the journey alone. Instead, enlisting the services of a copy-editing and translation company such as BLC could help you on your way and set you on the path to becoming a well-celebrated academic around the world.

Why proofread translated copy

As previously mentioned, there are a lot of common errors that crop up in texts that have been translated from one language into another. Translation of texts happens more often than one might think, especially when it comes to academic studies, government communication as well as books. For an example of this, think about how countries like South Africa with 11 official languages. It would be unfair to neglect one language when it comes to official governmental forms and legislation, which is why proofreading of translated copy is so important.

Additionally, consider the celebrated author JK Rowling’s successful Harry Potter novel series. All 7 books in the series have been translated into over 80 languages. This made it possible for people all over the world to read the originally-English storybooks. Think about all the proofreading that went into the translation of these lengthy and complex books. Each chapter will have had to be analysed and broken down into paragraphs and then translated and proofread by various teams. In the end, we are left with a product that was made possible only by dedicated proof-readers around the world.

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Should you be in the process of translating a book or piece of work yourself, having it proofread after your work is a necessity. Even if one is adept in both languages, sometimes the human eye fails to pick up its own errors, no matter how many times one reads through a piece of writing. It is always better to have an outside, professional source such as BLC to check through your work and ensure that it is up to scratch. This way, you can avoid any awkward conversations between you and an editor or publisher when you submit your work.

Why proofread print media

Over the years, the internet has amassed a large collection of memes and funny videos about spelling errors in print media that have made a huge difference. Newspapers are usually responsible for their own proofreading, and sometimes this can go terribly wrong. For example, the renowned paper, The Guardian, was infamous for its frequent typos and became the brunt of several widespread jokes. In fact, the typos in the copy were so frequent that the satirical publication Private Eye, commonly referred to the paper as “The Grauniad.” As a huge print media operation, this was a huge embarrassment.

Since then, The Guardian has improved its spelling and taken greater care in proofreading to uphold its reputation. This is not the only instance where a simple proofread could have saved a lot of embarrassment. Years ago, The Toronto Sun newspaper made an incorrect statement in an edition, which they sought to correct in the following paper. Unfortunately, the box in which the correction was addressed was titled “Correrction,” leading to years of endless teasing at the paper’s expense.

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These are merely some fun examples. However, large errors in print media can lead to serious legal infringements. Many companies offer proofreading services that include fact-checking to prevent these sorts of complications. Fact-checking refers to the process of verifying facts before a piece of copy is published. It rules out most chances of misinformation that could potentially get a publication into a lot of trouble.

In the world of print media, deadlines are a constant and looming force of nature. Because of the fast-paced environment in which writers, whether freelance or in-company, many people underestimate the value of proofreading. Oftentimes, this sentiment leads them to not enlist the services of professional proof-readers and neglect the fact that a thorough proofread can make the difference between a mediocre piece of writing, and a phenomenal one.

Proofreading in print media is not only about picking up on errors relating to grammar and spelling. Oftentimes, without even realizing it, writers will harp on about a topic using arduous words and sentences that can leave the reader feeling exhausted even at a first glance. Good proofreading companies, such as BLC, know how to make copy more readable, succinct and clear in meaning. This can lead the reader into feeling that the piece of copy is as interesting and compelling as it is educational – even if the piece of writing is more fact-based than it is creative.

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Contact BLC for professional proofreading

Should you need proofreading for any of the above types of copy, or more, do not hesitate to contact BLC. We are devoted to providing personalised services and helping you create impeccable copy of any kind.