How Best to Use Editing Services
I’ve heard people say: “I’ve got to clean the house today; the maid is coming tomorrow,” and I’ve wondered: Clean before the maid comes? Why? Thinking it through, though, it makes sense. Only the people who live in a house are going to know where everything goes and all that. Doing a good job tidying before the cleaners come ensures they will be able to focus their energies on the hardcore cleaning, sanitizing, laundry, and other services they specialize in and for which you give them money.
Paying for professional proofreading services is like paying someone to clean your house; the more work you put in before you submit your document, the better your document will look after the professionals finish with it. How you make sure your document is ready for proofreading depends a great deal on your time frame and on your writing abilities.
If your deadline is not especially pressing, try to have your paper done a day before you submit it for proofreading. Let it sit overnight and then read through it carefully with fresh eyes and a rested mind. Errors that you didn’t see when you were just trying to finish a paper come into focus when you’ve had a break. You might try reading your paper aloud to yourself or to anyone you can find who’s willing to listen.
Certain common errors are pretty easy to catch:
- Incomplete sentences or sentences that don’t make sense. Even when the thoughts you have as you write seem perfectly clear, what gets on the page doesn’t always convey those thoughts very well, and it is better for you, the author, to figure out your meaning than for a proofreader.
- Factual errors. Just like you are the best person to make sure things in your writing make sense, you are also the best person to check your facts. You need to make sure what you write is accurate, true, and in your own words before you submit your document to a proofreader.
- Misspelled words or just misused words. The squiggly red underline in Word shows you where the misspelled words are. Incorrectly used words can be harder to spot, but a careful eye can turn up many of them, and some of them will show up in Word with a green or blue squiggly underline. Here’s an example: “Smith and Jones summarized there theory.” See the error? The word “there” is spelled correctly, but it should be “their.”
- Formatting problems. Make sure your title page (if applicable), margins, headers, and headings are formatted according to the rules of the correct style guide. MLA, APA, and the Chicago Manual of Style are the most commonly used.
After you’ve gotten your paper into shape, the next step is making sure that your proofreaders have all the information they need. This is like making sure the maids know just what you want them to clean and how. Fill out the online order form at ProofreadingPal correctly and completely. Make sure you select the correct writing style and provide accurate contact information so we can get right to work and can contact you if we have a question. If you are not sure which style to select, ask your instructor, manager, or other intended reader.
Next, provide a detailed document description to let your proofreaders know just what you want. Maybe you’re worried your conclusion is weak. Perhaps you only want grammar checked and no comments about graphics? Maybe you're wordy. You might provide your instructor’s/manager’s instructions, if you like.
The final step in making the most of professional proofreading services is reviewing your document carefully after you get it back. Read it and note the changes. Make sure you carefully read the proofreaders’ comments because they often have questions that only the author can answer.
For example, if you left out a citation, we might comment “Add citation here,” or we might say the meaning of a particular sentence is unclear and we’ve just guessed as best we can. And some of the things we offer are options; choose what you like best.
If you’ve decided to pay proofreaders to help you improve your writing, you want to get the best value you can. Taking time to proofread your paper before you submit it, providing your proofreaders with all the information they need, and following up on proofreaders’ comments and suggestions will make sure your money is well spent indeed.
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