What Are the Different Types of Proofreading?

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Candace Osmond

Candace Osmond studied Advanced Writing & Editing Essentials at MHC. She’s been an International and USA TODAY Bestselling Author for over a decade. And she’s worked as an Editor for several mid-sized publications. Candace has a keen eye for content editing and a high degree of expertise in Fiction.

All types of writing require proofreading. But the practices for each type may differ as different kinds of proofreading exist. 

For example, a proofreader’s methods for checking academic papers are different from their techniques for business documents.

So which type of proofreading service do you need? This guide will cover six common types of proofreading and when to use them. 

What is Proofreading, Really?

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Some of us may know that proofreading entails reviewing one’s text before sending or publishing. But the process is more complicated than that.

Proofreading refers to reading an entire selection and fixing specific errors that previous editors may have missed. Proofreaders are responsible for correcting spelling, grammar, and punctuation mistakes in writing. They also ensure that the format of the paper is polished.

No matter how excellent of a writer you are, you will always make tiny errors that you will overlook. Proofreading services are necessary to provide a fresh pair of eyes for your writing. They finalize your entire writing to get it ready for publication or submission. 

The act of proofreading can be done on the computer or through a printed copy. A traditional proofreader usually uses proofreading marks and symbols to suggest corrections. Those who work on the computer use special features on MS Word on Google Docs to make edits.

When to Use Proofreading

In traditional publishing, proofreaders are the last line of defense. As an author, I’ve hired them to spot any errors the developmental, line, structural, and copy editors missed. 

Proofread all work when you have the final draft or manuscript and are prepared to submit it. Do not submit an initial draft, character sketch, or idea to them. 

For essay writers, students, and authors on a budget, proofreading may be the only service they get for their writing. This process will only include checking for mechanical and formatting errors, like spelling, grammar, page number, and spacing. 

If your proofreader spots several errors on your paper, give it another check. Accept the tweaks they suggest, then have them look at it again. 

Proofreading vs. Editing

Proofreading and editing are two different tasks for preparing a document. Book writers and other authors hire separate proofreaders and editors to ensure their writing is free from errors.

An editor checks the first draft of your document until it is finalized. Some editors focus on your story or argument, while others focus on your adherence to writing conventions. A structural editor suggests ways to improve the pacing and sequence of your story.

Every aspect of proofreading is used when reviewing a document or piece of media. But a proofreader usually only appears at the end of the editing stage. They get a copy of your final manuscript and look for errors that previous editors missed. 

At this stage, the text’s narrative, main idea, and other bigger-picture aspects should already be perfect. The basics of proofreading only address surface-level issues, such as spelling, grammar, and formatting errors. That means it makes already good writing better.

Regarding collaboration with the writer, the proofreader is usually more detached than the editor. Editors must go back and forth with their writers to continue improving the draft. Documents with combined proofreading and editing are the ideal result.

The Different Types of Proofreading 

Learning the different types of proofreading content will help you find the proper kind of service your writing needs. Or, if you’re an aspiring proofreader, it will encourage you to choose your preferred career path in the appropriate proofreading industry. So, let’s look at what various types of proofreading exist.

Academic Proofreading

Academic proofreading services require a comprehensive knowledge of different styles and citation guides. Professors, thesis panelists, and other members of the academe are rigorous on these rules.

If you want to become a proofreader, memorize the MLA, APA, and Chicago citation styles. Learn which style guide is suitable for a specific discipline. And don’t forget to ask your client which style guide their university or college uses.

Other crucial aspects of academic proofreading include British or American spelling and formatting. The standard format for most essays is Times New Roman 12, with single spacing between each line and double spacing between paragraphs.

Aside from spelling and grammar errors, you might also perform a bit of fact-checking. Have sharp eyes on tables and figures. Then, check the reference list for any potential mistakes. 

Academic proofing also involves checking for things like proper numeric lists, formal language, too casual language, making sure numbers and figures add up, etc.

No matter the type of academic paper the proofreader checks, they only have one goal. They ensure the researcher or student’s work is free from mechanical mistakes. 

Some types of academic papers include theses, dissertations, research proposals, and concept papers. Essays, journal articles, personal statements, and college admission essays may also fall under academic writing. 

Business Proofreading

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This kind of proofreading includes examining the content of businesses or organizations. Some job seekers also look for business proofreaders to have their resumes or CVs checked for errors. There are several guides for business proofreading, depending on the topic at hand.

Branding is a crucial factor in business documents and posts. If a company doesn’t maintain the same tone of voice in its messages, it might struggle to lose loyal customers.

Spelling, grammar, and style are also massively significant to organizations and businesses. We might think they sell low-quality goods and services if they don’t know how to use basic verb tenses.

In the same way, job seekers need proofreading services to make a good impression on the company. Proofreaders will double-check their job experience, academic background, and skills if there are any errors.

They make sure that the resume’s list of experiences is consistent in structure. Format, page layout, and other aspects are also part of the service. 

Some examples of business documents include product descriptions, memos, user manuals, business reports, and proposals. Cover letters and press releases also require thorough proofreading

Print Media Proofreading

Print media proofreading is the most common type of proofreading in publishing companies. This type of proofreading includes textbooks, novels, journals, handbooks, and other print media on a typeset document.

Typeset documents refer to documents that are ready for printing. The author converts the manuscript from a word file to a PDF ready to print. That means the pages are exactly how they will look on the hard copy, along with the format and font.

Many print media proofreaders prefer hard copy over PDF. Working on pen and paper allows them to use different proofreading symbols to spot grammatical mistakes, misspellings, punctuation errors, etc.

Some proofreaders like to keep it modern. So, they use Adobe PDF editor or other software programs to mark suggestions and corrections.

Some indie or self-publishing authors submit their works to proofreaders in a Word file. You can use the Track Changes or Suggesting feature to correct mechanical errors. 

Regardless of where they work, print media proofreaders have one role. They ensure that the manuscript is error-free and formatted adequately before getting ready for publishing. 

Aside from textbooks and novels, print media includes magazines, newspapers, greeting cards, and directories. 

Translation and Bilingual Proofreading

Translation proofreading for the target language requires different methods and practices for proofreading because they usually sound less native or fluent. These types of documents typically have unique errors that other documents written in English don’t.

For example, if you write an essay in English, proofreading will include contextual misspellings. You might confuse “see” and “sea.” You can also encounter overuse of passive voice and poor transitions. 

Translation proofreading includes checking if the original document has the same message as the translated one. The proofreader should be fluent in the source language as well as the one it’s written for, and ensure the foreign writer didn’t lose their style or voice in the translated version. 

It should also be free from poor word choice, monotonous paragraphs, and inconsistent writing style. Checking for misspellings and grammar issues is also part of translation proofreading. 

Some documents that usually require English translation include birth and marriage certificates. Academic papers that will be presented at international conferences may also need proofreading. Blog posts, police records, and famous stories also undergo translation. 

Monolingual Proofreading

Monolingual proofreading services is another type of translation proofreading. Here, the monolingual proofreader only knows the language of the final document, which has already been translated. 

Since they don’t know the language of the original document, they can’t check if the translations are accurate and aligned. They are only concerned with the mechanical errors of the final paper, including the spelling, grammar, punctuation, and capitalization mistakes.

Of all the types of proofreading mentioned, monolingual proofing is just like regular proofreading. A general proofreader can perform this task. But if you’re a writer whose work is translated into English, I recommend getting a bilingual proofreader. Their rates might be higher, but they offer additional considerations.

Stylistic Proofreading

Proofreading may also depend on which error the proofreader should check. A stylistic proofreader is exactly how it sounds. It’s a type of proofreader that only checks your writing style. This is more commonly found with book proofreaders and authors.

As an author myself, I know there are several rounds and layers of the editing process, proofreading included. Each round is checked for common errors like grammatical errors, spelling mistakes, and stylistic changes.

With fiction, especially when writing multiple books in a series, a mistake in terminology could throw a reader off. Checking your writing for errors like this is crucial for catching even the slightest mistake.

Style is defined as how a writer expresses themselves in writing. Diction and syntax are two considerations under it. The proofreader will check if a word is too dull, repetitive, or cliche. 

Some foreign writers who got their works translated ask for stylistic proofreaders’ help. They will make the necessary edits to provide the intended impact.

Proofreading Makes You Powerful

Proofreading is more than just checking a document for spelling, grammar, formatting, and punctuation errors. Some documents require specific checks on citations, translations, and branding.

I hope this guide on the different types of proofreading helped you choose your specialization in your proofreading career. And for writers, I hope this guide helped you pick the correct proofreading service you need.