A Proofreader aims to make documents perfect. Perfection should be important for its own sake, but it has practical applications too: perfection makes you look professional, makes you look academic, and, perhaps most importantly, makes it look like you care.
So how does a proofreader make your work perfect?
First of all, it requires an expert proofreader with years of experience at the highest level, impeccable English grammar, and an eagle-eye for detail. These traits are essential: any proofreader without these skills will not be able to produce perfection, and may even introduce errors and solecisms into your work. A high quality proofreader produces high quality proofreading.
This can be very obvious, like misspelling ‘artisanal’ ‘bleurgsznubwgf’, or, and which is most often the case, they can be more subtle: making a homophone error like writing ‘bear’ instead of ‘bare’, making apostrophe errors like ‘you’re’ instead of ‘your’, or using the wrong pronouns, or the wrong prepositions, or conjunctions that are slightly awkward or don’t quite mean what you think they mean, or grammar that is a little out of order, or a little ambiguous, or just plain broken. The proofreader will find and correct these errors, many of which can’t be identified by a computerised proofreading program.
The next thing the proofreader will do is check your document for consistency errors. These aren’t objective mistakes like the previous category, but are rather times when you haven’t done the same thing every time you should have done. For example, you might have used single quotation marks one time, and double quotation marks a second, or you might have used an Americanised spelling one time (Americanized), and a British English spelling another.
When the proofreader has finished, the result is a document that is perfect. This means that it will impress its readers, and in particular its markers. Perfection should not be underrated, and perfection often makes a marker well-disposed to your work because of its professionalism and clarity – often in stark contrast to the other papers he or she will be marking – and therefore incline him or her to look on it generously and give it higher marks.