How does ProofProfessor work?

ProofProfessor is a new and better way to proofread. The capabilities of the human eye and brain are never sufficient when proofreading large numbers of words. We have created a software tool which electronically sifts through the document and flags potential errors and inconsistencies unlikely to be spotted by the human eye fresh on page 1 but beginning to tire on page 311. So we still do the traditional process – we proofread the entire text – but we help the job along with a bit of technology. It’s a combination that is successful at rooting out errors.

So is it all computerised and robotic? Will a human look at my document?

No and yes. ProofProfessor is a new proofreading concept set up and run by two perfectly human beings, Matt Rance and Alex Stevens. (We’re on the end of the phone if you want to chat with us.) All documents are proofread in the traditional way by human eyes. However, to make proofreading more efficient and thorough, and to assist in locating hard-to-find errors and inconsistencies, our software will run against your document. We read the document because the software won’t catch everything. We run the software because the eye won’t catch everything. So it’s the best of both worlds.

What type of documents do you accept?

Most documents in text format, whether fiction or non-fiction: books, theses, articles, essays, reviews, magazines, journals, reports... We handle any extended document written in the English language. We also check websites and blogs. We can work on paper, but only if we also have a digital file.

How long does proofing take?

That depends on length and our capacity: short documents will take less than a few hours. Once we have agreed a deadline, if your document is taking longer than planned we will let you know. Owing to the number of jobs we are offered, we are now operating 7 days a week.

What are the costs?

We charge per document or per error, not per hour. That way, you know what you are paying and don’t go over budget. There are two ways to have your work proofread:

- A fixed rate, according to the length of the document. The whole text is proofread or copy-edited, and we also run our software on it. So, the traditional eagle-eyed process, plus much undercover detective work.

- Per error, setting a limit on how many errors you wish us to find. The document is proofread and checked until we reach either your limit or the end of the text, in which case any difference is refunded.
You will also need to choose between Fiction and Non-Fiction. Click here to begin the pricing process.

What is the advantage of the ‘Pay Per Error’ option?

Rather than pay for the whole document to be proofread, you can set a maximum number of errors you wish us to find. The document is checked until we reach either your limit or the end of the text. Any difference is refunded. Example: you set a limit of 10 errors and pay £20. We find only 4 errors, and refund you £12. This option is best – cheaper and quicker – if your document is 99% accurate or at an advanced proof stage, but you just need us to have a final quick look. If your document has more errors than the quantity you have paid for, we will let you know that further proofreading is advised.

What do you mean by ‘No errors, full refund’?

Simple. If we find no errors whatsoever in your document, you will receive a 100% refund.

How and when do I make payment?

Via PayPal, once your document is ready. Simply calculate how much you wish to spend by clicking here. You may use your debit or credit card on PayPal. PayPal is a very secure and trusted payment method, with nearly 200 million users worldwide. We will commence work when payment has been received. We do not accept any other method of payment. The prices listed are for prepaid non-agency clients. Payment needs to be made in advance of the work being carried out in order to avoid any extra charges (minimum 10%).

What happens once I’ve paid?

PayPal will automatically redirect you to the page on our site where you can upload your file to us.

What type of file do I need to upload?

Your document should be a text file in any standard format: for example, Word, PDF or Notepad. We can work with Windows or Mac. Please upload only one file per payment. If we cannot open your file, we will contact you.

What is ‘proofreading’ and what is ‘copy-editing’? What exactly are the services you offer?

Proofreading

This is the main service we provide: to locate spelling, grammatical and other language errors and inconsistencies in the words and punctuation you have used. (For specific examples, see the next FAQ.) In this we are very, very thorough: it is quite possible for our eyes and our software to find one error per 200 words. However, this is not a full copy-editing service – for details, see the ‘Copy-editing’ heading below.

What counts as a proofreading error? What am I paying for?

- spelling mistakes in current English: langauge, litteracy, Engish
- spelling mistakes or missing accents in foreign-language words: Francois Hollande, cinema verite, Fuhrer
- mistakes in a proper name/noun: Road Dahl, Mercedes Benz, Barach Obama, Sainsburys
- inconsistencies: for example, if you have typed ‘overextend’ on page 4 of your document, and ‘over-extended’ on page 144, we will correct one of them. We will similarly query one instance of ‘Thom’ in a novel if there are 87 instances of ‘Tom’.
- non-capitalisation of a proper noun/name: St John’s wood, doric temple, Hell’s angel
- singular/plural mismatch: the criteria for this is common, one of the boys are missing
- words incorrectly joined together (excluding hyphenation): I am not readingthis
- word(s) incorrectly repeated: the boys are in in the headmaster’s study
- word(s) or letter(s) omitted: the boys are he headmaster’s study
- word(s) transposed: the boys are the in headmaster’s study
- incorrect capitalisation: the boys Are in the headmaster’s study
- unnecessary or omitted hyphenation: aurora-borealis, a two year old child, preemptive, I was taken by-surprise
- unnecessary or omitted apostrophes: the boy’s are in the headmasters study reading our websites FAQ’s
- incorrect punctuation: the boys who were in the headmaster’s study ; have gone home..
- instances of American spelling within the context of a British English document (one written by a non-American writer for publication or distribution outside North America) would be considered as errors: color, theater, fiber. This also includes ‘z’ spelling (maximize, modernize, anglicize), where ‘s’ spelling is considered more correct or preferable in British English. (For US clients, the reverse applies!) However, ‘Chicago Theater’ or ‘the American Counseling Association’ would not be errors.
- obvious factual errors in a fiction document: Elvis Presley died in 1978, the capital of The Netherlands is Rotterdam, Jane Austen only wrote one book
- homonyms resulting in errors: they’re holiday was in Illinois, wear they drank Champaign and had to higher a proofreader
- unclear meaning: I asked is at all the wise roses were able to reseed or again.

Our ‘referee’ and gold standard is The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Current English, first edited by H W Fowler and F G Fowler, edited by Della Thompson, 9th edition onwards (Oxford University Press).

Copy-editing

We also offer copy-editing, which provides a deeper and more appreciative reading of your text. The price for this includes the proofreading service. In copy-editing we will make more substantial and critical revisions (minor or extensive, according to your instructions) based on style, readability, punctuation, flow, tone and sense. We will also alert you to repetition, tautology, inconsistency and cliché, and comment on clumsy or inappropriate language.

How do you notify me of the work you have done?

There are three ways for us to do this:

(1) your Word document revised and corrected with Track Changes implemented, and with Comments from us where relevant: this is the way we and most of our clients like to work;

(2) for the Pay Per Error option only: an Excel report listing the manuscript page number and line, error, correction, context and, where relevant, a comment;

(3) an A4 paper printout marked up in red and sent to you by Signed-For delivery free of charge in the UK (outside the UK, by airmail, for which there is a small extra ‘at cost’ postal charge).

Do you handle American English?

Yes we do. Over half of our clients are in the US. Our software is able to detect 2100+ instances of British English spelling where American English spelling and usage should be, and vice versa – of course! We will make your document consistent with whichever spelling system you are using or request.

What about confidentiality?

All documents submitted to us are treated in the strictest confidence, not distributed to or discussed with any third party outside ProofProfessor, and deleted from our systems within 30 days of the job’s completion.

So does ProofProfessor have spelling mistakes on its own website?

We strive very hard to have an error-free website. We just think that’s the right thing: anyone looking at our website expects it as a given. Unlike other proofreaders, many of whom seem oblivious to their own spelling mistakes, we want to present ourselves as 100% shining clean.

So important do we consider our own literacy that we are prepared to pay £25 to anyone who can tell us that we have a spelling mistake – or mistakes – on this site (excluding our Twitter feed, though we strive to spell perfectly there, too!). The mistake can be in any word, but excludes those deliberate errors made to illustrate a point (see FAQ above, ‘What counts as a proofreading error?’).

Simply email us with a dated screenshot of the error(s) and, if you are correct, we will gift you £25 by PayPal for each mistake you have found. We will announce the error(s) via Twitter. Please note: we can only accept the first email on each calendar day: do not club together in a group or as colleagues so that we get multiple emails with the same mistake! We look forward to hearing from you.

I would like to self-publish: can you help me with that after the proofreading and editing?

Proofreading and editing are what we do best. There are now many self-publishing companies, not all of whom are reputable. One company with whom we work a great deal, and can recommend, is The Self-Publishing Partnership. Please click here for further details.

Do you ever work pro bono?

ProofProfessor has done, and will continue to do, pro bono work for charities and causes we believe in, especially if they are involved in UK literacy or censorship. Please email us if you wish to discuss this.

Contacting us

You can contact us via email (info@proofprofessor.com), phone, the enquiry form on our website, Twitter, Linkedin or Live Chat (see the yellow icon at the top of each page). Live Chat is generally available from 11 am to 4 pm and from 8 pm to 11 pm Monday to Friday and sometimes during the weekend. Overseas enquirers, please note that we are in the UK – Bath and London. We answer all relevant and polite emails.

Who is the ProofProfessor?

ProofProfessor is a concept and a business. It is run by Matt Rance, who is precise, personable, congenitally hypervigilant, occasionally monastic, and disarmingly self-styled. He is assisted by Alex Stevens, who takes care of account acquisition and the techy side, including social media. You can read more about them and the business here.

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