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Proofreading Services - Techniques for Students, Amateurs and Professionals

At Transcription City, we have professional proofreaders that spot check typists’ transcripts on a regular basis and provide essential feedback on their work to keep our transcription standards the best in the industry. Our proofreading services and proofreaders also take on regular outsourced work from clients with completed documents that need those final checks done to grammar, spelling, punctuation and even formatting to their documents.

Proofreading is a highly important part of writing any document, be it book, article, dissertation, report or even just an email for business circulation. A well written document can lose its impact if it contains even the simplest of errors, and if you are looking to get your writing published, having perfectly crafted writing can make all the difference. Here at Transcription City we provide proofreading services for your documents and here are some of the techniques that our proofreaders will use when checking through your work. Clarifying these techniques should make it easier for you to fully understand how and why any changes have been made to your document, or you can just read through these as handy tips to carry out your own proofreading work!

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BSI Proofreading Symbols and Working With Hard Copy

Proofreading services should place firm attention on the written word and so using a computer to proofread work can be highly strenuous on the eyes  even more so than typing due to the level of accuracy required. Many of our proofreaders will print out your document and make changes using BSI proofreading symbols on the hard copy, and then make changes using the ‘find’ or replace’ functions on Microsoft Word. This is an important way of avoiding repetitive strain injury to your eyes or even just a headache.

BSI symbols include simple symbols to indicate changes in formatting to words, including things like italics, indents, paragraph insertions or letter substitutions so proofread hard copy doesn’t become too cluttered and remains easy for professionals to read and understand. If you don’t know BSI proofreading symbols, you can still make changes to your hard copy and go back to use a computer to implement these changes. Believe us, you will appreciate how much easier and refreshing it can be to proofread a document quietly away from your PC.

Proofreading Services and Track Changes

With our proofreading services we will always provide you with a final document and one that includes track changes. Track changes will highlight any changes we make to your document so it is easier for you to make the final decision on whether to keep those changes or not, allowing you to retain complete control over your document. Even if you are proofreading your own work, track changes can be important as if you realise you made a change that you are ultimately unsure of, you will still have a record of that change.

To turn on track changes:

Go to the Review tab on Microsoft Word. Under the Tracking menu, you should see a box that says Track Changes. Simply click this and track changes will be turned on. (The box should now be highlighted in orange and anything you now write will be underlined in red as an insertion Like this’. )

To hide track changes, or make them invisible:

Sometimes when tracked changes are turned on, there can seem like there is a lot going on on the page and it can look confusing. To make track changes invisible whilst still recording them, go to the Tracking’ section under the Review’ tab. You will see a dropdown box that will by default say Final showing markup’. Change this to Final’ and your track changes will become invisible. To see your tracked changes again, revert to Final showing markup.’ Note: once you save and close your document, track changes will automatically reappear when you open it again. Under the Show markup’ tab, you can also specify which types of changes you would like to show or hide, for example, you may not want to see comments but still see insertions and deletions.

To turn off track changes permanently:

This function of track changes can be the most difficult for many people to get their head around. To turn off track changes, you cannot simply click the Track changes’ button and leave it un-highlighted. To turn changes off, you will need to do this first, but following, under the Changes’ section under the Review’ tab, you will need to move to the Accept’ button and either work your way through each change and accept individually through Accept and move to next’, or simply Accept all changes in document.’ When this is done, under the tracking tab, changes Final showing markup’ to Final’ and make sure the Track changes’ button is no longer highlighted. Track changes should now be turned off. Note: if when you do this, the track change bar still remains, you may also need to delete all comments within your document and the bar should clear.

Proofreading Services – Editing Functions

When you do a lot of proofreading, you may realise that some of your mistakes are actually recurring in certain areas. For example, For example,’ should always be followed by a comma. If a writer often forgets the comma, or maybe was initially unaware of this, a professional proofreader will often look at saving time by using either the Find’ or Replace’ functions on Word to find occurrences of that word and if applicable, automatically change any.

To use the Find’ function:

Under the Home’ tab, move to the

Editing’ section and select Find.’ Type in the desired word and select Find next’.

To use the Replace’ function.

Under the Editing’ section under the Home’ tab, find and select Replace’. Once the dialogue box opens, type the word that is to be replaced (or found first), in the Find what’ box. In the box below, type the word that is to replace it, under Replace with.’ For example, Find what: Their, Replace with: There. You can review each change by individually selecting Replace’ as you go along, or if you are confident, press Replace all.’

Please note, if you are replacing whole words, it’s a good tip to put a space before and after the word (especially if the word is short). For example, if you are replacing more’ with are,’ and you simply type these without the spaces, Microsoft Word will also change all words INCLUDING these letters. For example, MORE’ would become ARE’. It is also for this reason that it is often best to take the time to replace each word individually, and it’s still quicker than finding them yourself!

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Proofreading Services – Using Comments

At Transcription City, if we are unsure of a change to your document, or it is more of a recommendation or a suggestion that would improve your writing, we will insert a comment box so you can review the recommendation yourself. We can also make you aware of things that may be missing in your document. For example, in a dissertation, you may have a quote with a correctly written reference to the source, but you may be missing the author, line, or page number. If you are proofreading your own work, you can use this function to remind yourself to go back and check things as comments can be turned off or hidden so it will keep your work neater.

How to insert a comment:

Go to new comment’ under the Review’ tab in the Comments’ section. Write your comment, close the box and continue working.

How to delete a comment:

When you write a comment, the Comments’ section will expand to include Delete’, Next,’ and Previous’. Find and highlight your comment, and select Delete’ and you will be able to delete your comment. If you have not highlighted a comment, pressing Delete’ will bring up a list so you can locate the relevant comment from here.

Well, that may seem like a lot to take in but this information can be useful in a number of ways, making you aware of exactly what technical methods a proofreader goes through in checking your work and why it can be so useful. Maybe alternatively, these tips will give you the confidence you needed to do the best job possible in proofreading your own work.


Proofreading Quiz

Proofreading is a critical step in the writing process, one that distinguishes good writing from great writing. It’s your last line of defense for catching errors and polishing your work for publication. But proofreading isn’t just about spotting mistakes; it’s an art that tests your attention to detail, command of language, and understanding of grammatical rules. Whether you’re a writer, a student, or a language enthusiast, honing your proofreading skills will enhance the clarity, impact, and professionalism of your writing.

Common Mistakes: Where Even the Best Fall Short

Before we dive into the quiz, let’s address the common culprits that often slip past even seasoned writers:

Grammatical Errors:

These include subject-verb disagreements, incorrect verb tenses, and misused grammar elements, which can change the meaning of your sentences.

Spelling Mistakes:

In the era of autocorrect, it’s easy to overlook misspelled words, especially when they’re homophones like ‘their’ and ‘there.’

Punctuation Errors:

Commas, semicolons, and apostrophes have specific functions that, when misplaced, can alter the rhythm and flow of your writing.

Sentence Structure:

Maintaining a consistent and clear structure ensures that your audience absorbs your message as intended.

Quiz Questions: Validate Your Vigilance

Now, let’s see how sharp your proofreading skills are. Choose the correct answer for each multiple-choice question:

  1. Which sentence uses the correct form of “its/it’s”?

a. Its raining cats and dogs.

b. It’s books are overdue.

c. It’s been a long day.

d. Its time for dinner.

  1. Identify the correctly punctuated sentence:

a. He loves cooking; his family and his dogs.

b. He loves cooking his family, and his dogs.

c. He loves cooking, his family, and his dogs.

  1. Choose the sentence with the correct subject-verb agreement:

a. The flock of birds are flying south for the winter.

b. The flock of birds is flying south for the winter.

Proofreading services for transcripts
Transcription services and proofreading for authors

Explanation and Tips: Debunking the Errors

After each quiz question, we provide a detailed explanation of why one choice is correct and others are not:

(Correct answers for quiz questions: 1-c, 2-c, 3-b)

Always ensure the pronoun ‘it’s’ is used as a contraction for ‘it is,’ while ‘its’ indicates possession. Understanding this fundamental rule will help you avoid one of the most common grammatical errors.

Proper punctuation is essential for clarity. In the above example, comma usage helps separate distinct ideas and avoid confusion, while the semicolon is used incorrectly.

Subject-verb agreement is key to a grammatically sound sentence. Phrases like ‘flock of birds’ require singular verbs because the flock is acting as a single unit.

Remember, proofreading is more than a mechanical task; it’s a skill that improves over time and with practice. Read extensively, pay attention to the language used around you, and always double-check your work.

Practice Exercise: Put Your Proofreading to the Test

Sharpen your skills with a real-world application. Here’s a paragraph containing multiple errors. Can you spot them all?

“Their’s an old saying that goes, ‘what goes around come’s around.’ While it’s message is timeless, it’s important to remember that grammar and punctuation; can truly affect the meaning of a sentence.”

(The errors include incorrect usage of “Their’s” which should be “There’s,” misuse of the apostrophe in “come’s,” an incorrect semicolon, and misuse of “it’s” which should be “its.”)


Conclusion: Embrace the Power of Proofreading

This brief proofreading quiz serves as a snapshot of common mistakes and opportunities for learning. Remember, the difference between a good piece of writing and a great one often lies in the details. By continuing to practice your proofreading skills, you’ll not only catch errors but also develop a nuanced understanding of the language. A well-proofread document reflects your competence and attention to detail—traits that are invaluable in any professional or academic setting.

If you would like more information about our proofreading services, transcription services, translation services or subtitling services, why not get in touch today? We are available seven days a week and always happy to help.