Trevor Birch: Author, Editor & Proofreader



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Editorial Services

Why Use an Editorial Service?

If you are publishing (i.e. producing for distribution to more than one person) any sort of written document, whether on paper or in electronic form, it is highly likely that it will be important that it is written in correct English. That is, using correct spelling, punctuation and grammar. It should probably also be internally consistent in both presentation style and content.

If your document is not like this, it is likely that it will at least damage your reputation as writer or publisher; your readers will form a poor opinion of your ability, not just of your command of English and attention to detail, but also in the accuracy or trustworthiness of the message you are trying to put across. If you are trying to sell something, your reader's poor opinion of your document will also reflect badly on the quality of the product or service you are selling, and they will be far less likely to buy.

If you are not confident in your ability to get the English of your document right – perhaps English is not your first language – then you should definitely seek expert help. Even if you do have a good command of written English, typing mistakes will inevitably still happen, and it is notoriously difficult for any writer to successfully check their own work – you are likely to read what you intended to write rather than what you actually wrote, and therefore overlook even glaring mistakes. It is much easier for an independent person, reading your document for the first time, to detect errors in it.

Automated spelling and grammar checkers can also only go so far in ensuring the correctness of your document. Although they are a big help, and should certainly be used as your first line of defence against mistakes, there are certain types of error that they just can't detect. For example, it is quite possible to miss-type a word and end up with another, correctly spelled and grammatically correct word that means something completely different from the original word. There are also many words with alternative spellings (further and farther is just one example); while you are free to choose any of the alternatives, you should use only one of them in a single document (or throughout a series of related documents). It is very difficult for automated checkers to detect such mistakes, but easy for a person who understands English – including your intended readers if the mistakes survive into your published document.

Thus, if it is important that your document is correct (and it should be), you really need an independent person (i.e. one who hasn't read it before, let alone written it) to check your document before it is published. This person should also have a good command of written English and an eye for detail. If you don't have a friend with these abilities to call on to help you, then you are welcome to hire me; I am a native English speaker and as a professional proofreader I have checked many complete books for various publishers in the UK book publishing industry.

Proofreading or Editing?

Traditionally, such as in the book publishing industry, an author's raw manuscript is actually checked at least twice before it is finally published. In the first stage, known as copy-editing, the author's text is checked for spelling/typing, punctuation and grammatical errors, and internal consistency. Poor phrasing may also be corrected, and the text is prepared for publication by identifying which pieces of text are to be given different presentation styles, such as title or heading levels, bulleted or numbered lists, etc.

The edited text is then passed to the typesetter, who implements the corrections identified by the editor (if they have not already been implemented directly by the editor), and applies specific fonts and other text settings to the styles identified by the editor. Traditionally this meant assembling each page from individual characters of type, ready for use in the printing press. These days this process is done electronically using desktop publishing software to manipulate the text files supplied by the author and/or editor.

The results of the typesetter's work are then checked again, primarily to catch typesetting errors but also to act as a backup to the editor's checks, to catch any remaining errors that have slipped through. The test pages produced from the typesetter's work are known as 'proofs', hence this final checking process is known as 'proofreading'. Owing to the difficulty (and expense) of correcting the physically set type, a proofreader traditionally exercises a lighter, less interventionist approach than the editor, letting through the more minor grammatical errors.

Traditionally, the roles of editor, typesetter and proofreader are performed by separate people, who each have an opportunity to detect and correct errors in the text. However, with documents these days being handled as electronic files right up until final printing, the divisions between these roles are becoming blurred, particularly between editor and typesetter and especially for smaller documents such as those intended for publication on the internet. Instead of marking up errors for correction by the typesetter, the editor can change (i.e. 'edit') the file directly, and likewise instead of marking up sections of text for specific style treatment, the editor can apply appropriate text formatting directly to the file. The need for a final proofreading stage is also perhaps less important, since the typesetter no longer has to 'retype' the entire document, just apply indicated corrections and text styles, and therefore is less likely to introduce new errors.

My Editorial Services

I offer both editing and proofreading as stand-alone services. I also offer a basic typesetting service, but only in conjunction with my editing service. Apart from the typesetting preparations, the main difference between my editing and proofreading services is the degree of intervention you want me to apply to your document. In both cases I will check your document for consistency and basic spelling and punctuation errors. While editing your document I will also look for and correct grammatical errors and poor phrasing, whereas while proofreading I will only correct the most serious or obvious grammatical errors.

In both cases I can also either work on paper, marking up the document copy you supply with the necessary corrections (for you to implement), or if you supply the document as an electronic file, I will implement the corrections (and typesetting too, if required) for you by modifying that file.

I can work with a wide variety of electronic file formats: basically any file type supported by either Microsoft Office 2003 (including Word and Powerpoint) or Adobe Creative Suite CS3 (including InDesign and Dreamweaver). I can also read (but not write) files produced by later versions of Microsoft Office, but the necessary conversion to an older format may loose some advanced formatting features. If there is sufficient demand I will look into upgrading to the current versions of either package.

Depending on my workload at the time you place your order, I can usually complete a proofreading or editing project within a few days, at a rate of at least 50 pages per day once I start. By prior arrangement (i.e. by booking a specific start date in advance), and for an extra 'premium rate' fee, I may be able to provide a much quicker turnaround, possibly the same day for small projects.


The fees for my editing and proofreading services are:

Where your document is either not divided into pages, or your page size is unusually large, a page is defined as up to 400 words. Partially-filled pages cannot be shared across documents, thus two 200-word documents count as two pages, not one.

For small orders, of less than £50 in value, I will also add an administration charge of £10.

The 'premium rate' fee (for extra-fast turnaround, see above) is £50.

All prices are in UK pounds Sterling. I can accept payment by credit or debit card (through Paypal or the payment form of this site), by e-banking transfer, or by cheque.

If you are interested in using my editorial services for a specific project, of one or more documents, then please request a quotation using the form on this site, giving as much detail as possible about your project. I will then respond with a firm price and an estimated delivery time.