Our standard service is an all-in-one proofreading and editing service. That means when you send your document to us, you get both editing and proofreading.
Let’s take a look at exactly what this service involves. The changes we make affect the following areas.
- Word choice
We’ll consider each of these in turn, but before we do, let’s look at an example. Here’s part of a university essay by an international student (used with permission). The corrections are shown in red, and the balloons describe the changes.
Here most of the corrections involve grammatical mistakes (shown in green). There’s also a spelling mistake (in blue), a punctuation error (in orange), a word choice error (in purple), and two suggested improvements to the written style (in gold). We’ll talk about these below, but first notice something that hasn’t been changed.
The content is your own
The student’s ideas – the meanings expressed – haven’t been changed. That’s one of the reasons why top UK universities can trust us with their students’ work and global brands trust us with their promotional materials.
The purpose of the proofreading and editing service is to help your brilliant ideas (not ours!) be easily understood. It’s about polishing your writing so the language is error free and the style is appropriate, but not changing your content. You know best what you want to write; we’re here to help your reader understand.
Are your professors confused by your writing? Proofreading and editing makes it easier to understand.
Take a look at these changes one by one. We’ll start with grammar.
Our proofreading and editing service makes sure your work doesn’t have any grammatical mistakes. But what sort of errors do we correct? Here are 3 of the most common.
Something our proofreaders correct again and again, particularly for non-native speakers of English, is mistakes with the passive voice. For example, can you see what’s wrong with the sentence below?
Here, the writer forgot to include a form of the verb ‘be’ (e.g. were), and hasn’t used the right form of the verb affect. So proofreading could involve changing it like this:
Here’s another example where the present tense ‘are’ is used:
Next, let’s look at another mistake which is just as common – if not more.
Subject-verb agreement errors
In English, remember these two rules:
- If the subject of the sentence is singular (e.g. One man), then the verb needs to be in the singular form
- If its plural (e.g. Two men), then the verb needs to be in the plural form.
If these rules aren’t followed, we have a grammatical mistake. For example,
Despite mistakes like this, we can normally still understand the meaning, but it makes the writing look unprofessional.
Word form errors
Grammatical mistakes occur when the wrong form of a word is used. For example, the form of the verb compare leads to an error in the sentence below:
Similarly, with adverbs, it is easy to get confused about when to use –ly endings:
2. Word choice
Correcting word choice errors involves replacing one word with another word. This is not about correcting grammatical mistakes (we talked about that above).
These corrections can be for many reasons, for example i) because the meaning of the word is inappropriate, ii) to improve the style or iii) to make the work easier to read. Here are some examples.
In the sentence below, a word that looks similar, but has a totally different meaning, has been corrected:
And in this example, a word with a similar meaning has been used in an inappropriate context:
Lastly, changes to the word choice can also improve the style, for example by making it more academic (style is discussed further below):
Next, let’s look issues with spelling.
Proofreading includes checking the spelling in a document includes making sure the spelling in your document is consistent in implementing a single variety of English, such as British English or American English. And of course it also involves making sure that words are spelling correctly (e.g. peple –> people).
But our proofreaders find that confusing words with similar spellings is a more common issue in students’ work. Here’s a list of commonly confused words. Do you know the difference between the words on the left and on the right? (they are all correctly spelled, but they have different meanings and so shouldn’t be mixed up!).
Commonly confused words
There’s also pairs of words like affect and effect, and practice and practise, which have important differences in meaning and are frequently misused.
Software (like Microsoft Word’s Spelling and Grammar checker) can easily miss mistakes like this, and so a human eye is needed to check for correctly spelled words used in the wrong context.
Next, proofreading ensures that punctuation marks are correctly used. This means carefully checking for accuracy across the full range of English punctuation marks. The following are commonly used in English:
|Quotation marks (single / double)||‘ ’ / “ ”|
We’ll illustrate some mistakes we often see with two punctuation marks: apostrophes and commas.
An example of a mistake with the apostrophe is incorrect location. To denote plural possession, it should go after the final –s in a word, and to denote singular possession, it goes before the final -s. So in the example below, because there is more than one customer, the apostrophe should follow the –s.
Across the world, customer’s different expectations affect… (i.e. there is one customer) –> Across the world, customers’ different expectations affect… (i.e. there are multiple customers)
As for commas, there are many ways in which these are used incorrectly, but one common type of correction we make involves deleting commas that are used where they are not needed:
The cat is well-behaved, and very cute. –> The cat is well-behaved and very cute.
However, banks, neither require this investment nor actively seek it. –> However, banks, neither require this investment nor actively seek it.
Finally, we cannot forget a mistake called a comma splice. Here, two independent sentences are joined by a comma. To make this grammatical, we can use a connecting word like ‘and’ or a semi-colon:
The results are convincing, they strongly support the proposal –> The results are convincing and strongly support the proposal
The results are convincing, they strongly support the proposal –> The results are convincing; they strongly support the proposal
The last type of correction – and one of the most important – is to improve the style of your work.
Problems with style, such as using an informal style when it should be formal, can make your writing seem unprofessional. But influence from your mother tongue (if it is not English), can also result in expressions which are not natural English. This can make it harder for the reader to understand (e.g. Chinglish may appear in writing by Chinese students).
The improvements that proofreading and editing make to written style include:
- Changing unnatural/awkward sentence structures into natural English
- Eliminating repetition
- Ensuring use of the right style (e.g. an academic style for university essays)
Unnatural/awkward expressions changed to natural English
The two examples below illustrate how unnatural sentences are changed into natural English; grammatical mistakes have been corrected and word choice improved:
In this research identified six factors towards customer satisfaction. –> This research identified six factors and explored their effect on customer satisfaction.
Older people do not more consider the brand name –> Older people pay less attention to the brand name
But now let’s look at an example of direct influence from one’s mother tongue. Topic-comment structures are common in many Asian languages, and so these are sometimes used inaccurately in students’ writing:
However, for large businesses, they only focus on mass production.
This sentence would be grammatical if we include as:
However, as for large businesses [topic], they only focus on mass production [comment].
But in English, structures like this are normally only used for special effect, such as to highlight the topic. The default is to use the subject-predicate structure:
However, large businesses [subject] only focus on mass production [predicate].
So sometimes proofreading and editing may involve correcting the topic-comment structure, and sometimes it may involve changing the structure into a subject-predicate structure.
Obvious repetition is considered bad style in English and should be corrected:
We use mathematical analyses to analyse the data… –> We examine the data using mathematical analyses
When proofreading and editing for university students, we check that your writing displays an academic style. Academic writing has a number of properties that distinguish it from other types of writing – for example, it is formal rather than informal.
To make the style formal, we often need to improve the word choice, as shown in these two examples:
This has got more attention in recent years –> This has drawn increased attention in recent years
A big part of the study was done online –> A large part of the study was conducted online.
Do you want your document to be proofread and edited by our professional team? Please email it to us now:
We’ll reply straight away and get the proofreading and editing started.