GrammarPhile Blog

What Proofreaders Can’t Do

Posted by Sara Richmond   Jan 11, 2024 7:30:00 AM

Proofreading Doesn’t Fix All the Boo-Boos

If you hire a person to paint your kitchen cabinets, you wouldn’t expect them to renovate your entire kitchen for free. If you go to the dentist for a semiannual cleaning, you wouldn’t blame them for your cavities and expect them to drill them at no cost. If you take a driver’s ed course, you wouldn’t be ticked your instructor didn’t offer to become your complimentary chauffeur.

If we’re wrong, we suggest you read this or this instead.

In the same way, proofreading can do a lot to improve your writing, but some tasks are simply beyond its scope. This isn’t due to a lack of motivation—most proofreaders are overeager to provide great value and exceed your expectations. This limitation is simply a matter of definition—what proofreading is and what it isn’t.

What Proofreading Doesn’t Address

Formatting and Layout

Proofreaders work with the text, not the packaging—that’s a job better suited to a graphic designer. Your software or platform or final file type may have different formatting anyway. And trust us when we say you don’t want people with bubkes in graphic design experience fiddling with your darlings.

Web or Copy Design

We aren’t programmers or web designers, so we won’t make changes directly to your website. This is for your protection and sanity. In addition to being outside the scope of a proofreader’s duties, that sort of arrangement can create security concerns and bring ruin to your day. Your IT department will second that emotion (loudly and angrily).

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Topics: proofreader, professional proofreading

How to Get the Most Out of Professional Proofreading

Posted by Sara Richmond   Feb 23, 2023 10:30:00 AM

Yes, you could proofread your own work. But you know that’s as risky as making a Muppet (specifically, Beaker) foreman of a logging camp. It could work out. But it’s far more likely to result in a meme-worthy disaster or another Muppet movie. Neither the world nor you needs more suffering.

If you understand the value of proofreading, then the next steps are finding a good proofreader and maximizing the benefits of professional proofreading. The latter is a little like getting the last bit of shampoo out of the bottle; not everybody does it, but the value adds up over time.

For the sake of clarity: The bottle is the document, not the proofreader. Please don’t squeeze or attempt to squeeze proofreaders. We will squeal, angrily.

That said, here are five ways to get the most of professional proofreading:

1. Find a good proofreader. This sounds basic enough to be offensive, but it can be a daunting task. For everyone who hasn’t huffed and puffed and skipped to number two, we’ve listed six things to look for. This is not an exhaustive list, but you can be sure that professional proofreaders will share the following core characteristics:

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Topics: professional proofreading

Easy Grammar Tips for B2B & B2C Writers -  Part 1

Posted by Sara Richmond   May 13, 2021 7:30:00 AM

You need fast. You need easy. With your busy schedule, slowing down to learn the ins and outs of grammar minutiae isn’t just unappealing, it’s inconceivable. The five minutes it will take you to read this will save you exponentially more time in the future. These quick and simple grammar tips for business writing are based on some of the most common errors we correct:

  • Subject-Verb Agreement

For the most part, this is obvious. You don’t write: I are the CEO. The return on investment am bad.

But there’s the less obvious: Nouns that are plural in form but singular in meaning usually take singular verbs. Nouns that name a group of people or things take singular verbs.

For example: News travels fast; bad news travels faster. Economics is a fascinating subject, said no one, ever. The company is supplying ergonomic chairs made entirely of pillows. A flock of seagulls does all of our accounting.

  • Capitalization in Heads

If you’re unsure when/what to capitalize in titles and headings, here’s a summary. Capitalize everything but:

    • Articles (a, an, the)
    • Conjunctions (connecting words like for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so)
    • Prepositions (words that often show direction, time, and location, such as of, with, to, on, before, into, over, about).

If an article, conjunction, or preposition begins or ends a title, capitalize it.

Some style guides, like AP, call for capitalizing conjunctions and prepositions of four or more letters, phrasal verbs (e.g., Turn Off, Look For) and verbs in an infinitive (e.g., To Be, To Analyze).

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Topics: proofreading for business, professional proofreading, grammar tips

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