Sharing is caring!
Students and professionals often ask this question and to be honest, even those who work in the field can have difficulty in providing a comprehensive answer. It really all comes down to the amount of changes that are required to be made to any given piece of prose depending on which stage of the publication process has been reached. All three can be carried out on the same piece of work by different service providers and they are not mutually exclusive. To begin, let us first consider the purpose and begin with proofreading as the starting point.
Proofreading is the last part of the publication process where the author has already made many corrections and been through their document many times.
However, it is amazing how a fresh pair of eyes can spot errors that the author has overlooked many times and this is even true of professional editors when they themselves write their own texts.
A proofreading service provider, however, can quickly spot these overlooked errors in a much more efficient manner that tired eyes can miss time and time again. So proofreading is all about noticing the small things that are difficult to detect. This entails identifying misspelt words where a couple of letters in a word may have been placed the wrong way round such as ‘i’ and ‘e’. Not everyone knows about the famous ditty for remembering this: “I comes before E except after C when it sounds like ee!” Proofreading is also about ensuring the consistency throughout a document of the use of punctuation which can be different whether one is applying British or American English conventions. For example, one requires punctuation such as full stops and commas to be inserted before quotation marks while the reverse is true for the other. But which is which? Do you know? Well, in American English all punctuation must be inserted inside quotation marks and vice versa for British English.
So, when an English editing service provider receives a document to be checked, he or she must first ascertain whether US or UK English punctuation should be applied. This is usually one of the first questions that a client should be asked before work can be commenced on their piece of writing. It may seem unimportant to many people whether a full stop comes first or second but for publishers it is viewed as extremely important. And this does not stop at just periods (US version) and commas. Of course, US spelling and the UK variety are different depending on which is chosen. Again publishers can be very concerned about whether a word contains two instances of the letter ‘l’ or just one and this is all governed by nationality!
Another part of the service is to spot typos which are not always picked up by the common spellcheckers available online and common software employed by people for the word processing of their assignments. Sometimes a typo can produce a completely valid word but which has an entirely different meaning. Sometimes it can be as simple as the difference between ‘there’ and ‘their’. There are numerous examples of this sort of thing. Some software will highlight these errors but leave it to the author to work out what the problem is.
However, having said all this, students for whom English is their second language are prone to ask for proofreading services, but due to their level of English knowledge, their paper requires more than mere proofreading. Grammatical errors need to be dealt with so nowadays there is a blurring between the two types of services, but most service providers will consider this the normal practice and still refer to it as proofreading rather than editing.
Editing is more than mere proofreading and corrects more complex mistakes in language such as grammatical and usage errors. This would include inserting missing words and correcting the order of words, known as syntax. A word in the wrong place in a sentence can completely change its meaning or render it meaningless. It can be impossible to decipher the meaning of a phrase if the syntax is really lacking in clarity. The editor would perhaps need to either contact the client or insert a query in the document for it to be followed up or responded to in order to work out what the intended meaning is supposed to be. Therefore, editing may require some two-way flow of conversation to get a piece just right. Most editors are happy to deal with feedback or check a passage that has been rewritten by the client.
And then there are different levels of editing such as light editing or heavy editing. The former is rather more than proofreading but focuses on the fluency and flow of a piece of writing whereas the latter involves the correction of more than this, such as usage mistakes. An editor is always mindful of the fact that they should not alter the content itself and thus avoid embellishments or suggesting ideas that the author has not thought of. For most editors this would not include glaring errors regarding logic or where the writer has said something that they did not mean to due to their poor knowledge of language. The aim is to preserve the intended meaning as much as possible rather than allow an obvious blunder to remain unchecked.
So there is a definite duty of care that editors aspire to honour in their work in order to ensure that the best possible work is the end result. The aim is to please the client and generate referrals but not do too much so that the final product is not more the work of the editor than the client! A good balance is the appropriate approach so that value for money is achieved. There is always a better way to write something and it often comes down to a matter of personal style.
Copyediting is quite a different kettle of fish. It is far more like a writing service where the copyeditor carries out a lot of rewriting of clumsy sentences and phrases. It is usually applied to a script that is already in its completed form but requires extensive changes to be made to such things as the fluency and style. It may be that a more upbeat style is needed or more formal English to make a manuscript fit for purpose. Again people have a wide range of opinions on what copyediting is, some believing that only a document written in note form is sufficient for this service. Mostly it is about corrections being made and general improvements to increase the number of words. A certain amount of research of the given topic might be necessary so a greater amount of time will be devoted to this type of work. More creativity is needed as a piece of writing might start off as being on the bland side and needs to be livened up to some extent.
So copyediting is not a service that your average student would require but professional bodies use such service all the time to ensure that their marketing materials stand out from the rest. This sort of requirement will not be a one-off necessity but an ongoing outsourcing measure. Not everyone has the skills to produce beautiful sentences and phrases but may need to enlist the help of experts who have produced impressive works.
No matter whether editing or proofreading is required, the vital thing is that you can find what you are looking for regarding such services by contacting HKNETS, which always ensures high levels of editing. You can be certain of their immense experience which will be of great use when you want to get your thesis or dissertation proofread by them. Your assignment is important to you and the team at HKNETS knows this. So email firstname.lastname@example.org to get a quick response.
Address: Room 2102, Winning House, 10-16 Cochrane Street, Central, HK.
Telephone: +852 8191 2925