Proofreading, Editing, Writing

What sort of proofreader and copy-editor would I be if I didn't dabble a little in writing too ... Feel free to browse through my latest journal entries below.


What will I do to your manuscript?

Posted on 18th April 2019

It depends on two things: what you want me to do and what I think your document needs. Very often work lands in my inbox and the author hasn’t a clue what needs done. I usually get a request for a proofread because that’s the term people are most familiar with.

Sometimes a proofread is exactly what needs done – a check that everything’s in order before the print button is pressed, but work like this will have gone through an editing stage before it comes to me. More often than not though, it’s verging into the territory of an edit of some kind.

A copy-edit goes through a document line by line looking for changes that can be made to help sentence structure, sense, consistency and overall readability. It looks at punctuation and spelling and might involve fact-checking too. It’s an intense and laborious type of work that requires full-on focus. With Track Changes on and edits shown it can look quite scary with red ink all over the place.

A developmental edit looks at the overall document. So for fiction it looks at plot, structure, themes, pace, characters, dialogue – all the big, overarching concepts that make fiction fiction. Some of the same applies to non-fiction too: are the chapters in the correct order? Do chunks need deleted? Is there anything missing that needs added? Does the book make sense?

Very often it will take an editor to point out the things that need done to get a manuscript to a publishable position. That’s why it’s great to see a document before taking work on – I can explicitly show an author what I think the text needs. Sometimes I’ll edit the first couple of pages to give the client a clearer idea of what I mean because it’s only when you see the results of an edit that you can see the difference it makes to your writing.

Of course, it’s up to the client what they want to pay for and the level of intervention they want – I can only point them in the right direction. This can mean that I proofread a piece of work that needs copy-edited – a shame really because the client isn’t producing the best piece of work and there’s only so much a proofread can do to a manuscript. Or, as was the case recently, I copy-edited a book that needed developmentally edited because the author didn’t want to do any more work to it herself. I worked with what I had to get the text into readable shape but the problems with the manuscript were at the developmental stage – namely point of view – which makes for an unenjoyable read for anyone who bought her book.


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  • I have employed Victoria Woodside for several projects over the past year and found her to be an excellent proofreader. She is thorough, eagle-eyed and meticulous. She is also a pleasure to work with - professional yet friendly, efficient and timely. I can't recommend Victoria highly enough...

    Averill Buchanan
    Advanced Professional Member, Society for Editors and Proofreaders

  • I am working with Victoria on two projects and am extremely pleased with her work: one piece of work is fiction and the other is non-fiction. She is able to edit equally well on both even though they are two entirely different genres. She has checked facts, corrected spelling and punctuation and made good suggestions about layout and formatting. The work is all mine but she has somehow made it better. I look forward to working with Victoria in the future.

    Rev. Neil Cutcliffe

  • Victoria has proof-edited business documents for us on numerous occasions. We are very pleased with the standard of her work and I am sure that her contributions have positively impacted on our business.

    Mark Grain
    Financial Director, Woodside Haulage Group

  • Victoria provided a fast, attentive and very thorough service. It immensely improved my work and focused my attention on various aspects of my writing throughout my dissertation.


  • I found Victoria easy to deal with, she has a pleasant and willing manner and always responded to emails/calls/texts promptly. Victoria engaged well with the content of my book and was considerate of the subject matter. Victoria was thorough in her proofreading and demonstrated a high level of attention to detail.

    Victoria offered suggestions but was not forceful with any of them, and was open to my view on her suggestions. I found Victoria to be professional and efficient in her work and I would have no difficulty recommending her to others and I would certainly use her services again in the future.

    Nollaig Mc Sweeney

  • Victoria has been amazing at helping shape the flow and language of our brochure, from simple mistakes to rewording entire sections.

    This had made a big difference to the standard and quality of our brochure, which we are very grateful for.

    Alex Milne
    Milne Holiday Parks