The value of a professional proofreader

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Is it worth hiring a professional proofreader? Here’s my view, if your publication is going to be printed…

I’m a big believer in the value of professional proofreaders. If you’re reluctant to spend the money on one (currently somewhere between $35 and $50 per hour), let me tell you about the value they add.

In addition to catching and fixing typos, they also address how your document looks. This may sound simple and easy-peasy, but it’s not. It requires not only a good eye but, also, significant experience.

Just this week, for example I was reviewing the document my proofreader had checked. Here’s the kind of thing she caught:

  • An incorrect typeface had been used for a couple of the subheads. The difference was so subtle I might not have noticed it (but some readers would have.)
  • There was inadequate vertical spacing below a couple of the tables.
  • The hairline rule at the bottom of the page — separating the running footer from the rest of the text — had been omitted on two pages.
  • The kerning (space between the letters) for several drop caps needed to be adjusted.
  • Bad breaks — where the computer decides to hyphenate a word at the end of the line, but makes an ugly or hard-to-read choice — needed to be adjusted.
  • Widows and orphans had to be eliminated. (I know this sounds harsh, but it’s not!)

And, of course, the proofreader also caught a raft of typos.

If you’re producing publication that’s going to be printed, it’s well worth hiring a professional to help protect the look of your investment.