A few months back my brother and I were chatting when he suddenly asked:
“Why would anyone use a proofreader?”
He raises a valid point. In these days of increasing automation and ever more intuitive AI, why would anyone rely on a human to check their work?
Microsoft Word comes with its own spellchecker (as do most word processing packages). If English isn’t your first language, there is always Google Translate to help you out.
It’s true, Word’s spellchecker has got a lot better since it was first launched. Now it will underline misspelt words in red, offer you a green line for possible grammatical errors, a blue line for a contextual mistake and even a brown dotted line if it thinks you’re using too many words. Some of its suggestions are helpful, others can be downright confusing.
For example, as I write this, it is trying to tell me that I’m spelling “proofreader” wrong. In fact, there are several different ways of writing this word correctly. And no matter how hard it tries, Word will never be able to tell you with absolute certainty whether you’re using “hare”, “hair” or “heir” correctly in a sentence.
Google Translate is frankly an amazing invention. I find it truly mind-boggling that it can translate text instantly. It’s definitely handy if you’re trying to decipher a menu, but don’t rely on it if you want to do anything more complex.
If English isn’t your first language, but you find yourself having to write in English, translation tools won’t be able to offer you accurate advice on grammar. They may also struggle to process figures of speech, like “Bob’s your uncle”, sometimes with disastrous results.
If you’re looking to publish your work, or simply to have it read more widely, making sure your work is clear and easy to read is vital. Confusing sentences, formatting errors and typos can make all the difference between acceptance and rejection with a publisher. More importantly, they can make the difference between someone reading what you have to say and walking away.
A proofreader can look at your work as a whole, in a way that computer software can’t. A proofreader will be able to check your spelling, spot typos and correct grammatical errors with confidence, where Word is only guessing. A proofreader will appreciate whether you are working on an essay or a short story and make sure you have appropriate and consistent formatting for your work.
Best of all, you can talk to a professional proofreader. A good proofreader will work with you to answer any questions you have. If they spot something where your meaning isn’t clear, they’ll ask you about it and help to clarify it, rather than choosing a preset phrase from a list of autocorrect options.
As an author, you have every reason to be confident in your writing. When you choose a professional proofreader to check your work, you can be confident it reads well too.
Think you might need a proofreader? Contact me today.