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Timing it right for proofreading essays

Posted on 14th March 2012

It seems that this year more than ever before I have had loads of last-minute requests from students to have their work checked by a professional and I thought it may be worth writing a blog with some advice for timings when getting an essay, thesis or dissertation proofread.

I have been a student, albeit only to undergraduate level, so know that getting essays done, revising for exams and ensuring there's plenty of time for fun can be quite a plate-spinning task, but if you're going to get your work proofread, don't leave it to the last minute.

  • Work back from your deadline to include time for printing and binding. This now needs to become your absolute final deadline so work to this and not your university's submission deadline.
  • A proofread essay is also not going to be returned to you in a print-ready state so you need to factor in time to accept/reject the changes (assuming it's in Word) and update elements or deal with queries. Some of these, i.e. missing data from references or re-wording to ensure clarity, may take some time so it's not just a case of receiving the proofread essay, printing it out and handing it in. Included in my fee is also the option to send me re-worded sections addressing my queries, so you're losing out on an integral part of the service if you don't give yourself time to do this.
  • Most proofreaders don't choose to work at weekends so bear that in mind. Personally, I do if I am available and your deadline requires it, but I can't guarantee being able to work then. If you know in advance that you will need work doing outside of standard office hours, contact me (or whoever your chosen proofreader is) in advance and ask about availability.
  • Even if your essay is only 3,000 words, I will usually need at least one business day to complete the work, and if I am already busy with other work then I may not have time to do this, even if it is a short essay. Again, plan ahead. I recently got a request saying I would receive an essay at 6.15am and that they needed it back by 10am - yes, my working hours are flexible, but be realistic.
  • It's difficult to give more specific suggested timeframes as it will vary greatly according to the word count, but if you've made the decision to get it proofread, contact me (or your chosen proofreader) in advance to find out how long will be needed for my work and recommendations for how long you'll need to go through it after the proofreading is complete. You can then factor this in and ensure you have the time to get the proofreading done, amendments and queries dealt with and will hit your deadline as stress-free as possible.

Ultimately, if you're willing to pay to get your work proofread, give it the planning, time and energy it deserves.

PS - That said, if you haven't planned ahead and need someone to proofread your work at the last minute or with a quick turnaround, do get in touch and I will see what I can do. If I'm not available, I can always put you in touch with a few other proofreaders I know who may be free.

Written by Kate Haigh.