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Proofreading for everyone

Punctured Punctuated lists

April 29th, 2013

Lists are handy. What can a list do?

A list

  • Presents information briefly and memorably
  • Assembles material that belongs together
  • Groups items that contribute to an understanding of something greater

What punctuation is required in a list? Should the list be part of a sentence? Should the items be numbered? Here are some practical guidelines to help you get consistency when you create a list. Continue Reading…

Twisted words

April 15th, 2013

At FastProof we proofread lots of university papers written by students from overseas. They manage to study in an unfamiliar language, and we do our best to improve their grammar without influencing their content.

The topic is always interesting even if unfamiliar. In the last year proofreading has kept me well informed about housing in Mongolia, dairy farming in Brazil, the colonisation of Tonga, the construction of microwave conduits and the role of design in the restoration of Iraq.

One develops a relish for quickly absorbing new topics. Regrettably, most of the information the proofreader absorbs leaks out almost as fast as it went in. Or maybe that’s useful, because I don’t need to retain all that information for the proofreading.

In dealing with the “foreign” use of English, one encounters all kinds of grammatical constructions — unconventional, plain wrong or full-on wacky. English can be infinitely and divertingly mangled, and we can find ourselves smiling at the expressions they concoct.

Then I set to work dismantling the curious concoction. I constructed this communicative contrivance to depict and describe the problem of difficult passages. It seems apt:

Now on facebook, so everything’s half price

April 3rd, 2013

Today marks the launch of the FastProof facebook page. Hurrah!

We hope it makes proofreading accessible to heaps of Kiwis so we can help them publish their documents with confidence. To keep in touch with our promotions and activities, go to facebook, search for FastProof and ‘like’ us.

NOTE: Choose the co.nz. version, not .org (which is in Ohio).

To celebrate our facebook launch, we’ve cut our prices in half. All proofreading orders are half-price — but only for the next two weeks! This is an unrepeatable promotion, so get a move on!!

Reprinting is ruinous

April 30th, 2012

You organise professional printing for the important documents: brochures, advertisements, product information, magazine articles. Before the printer makes the plates he asks you to sign the proof.

Hence you approve the colours, images, writing, fonts, layout and everything else. Then the job gets made.

So it has to be right. If someone finds a mistake later, it can’t be helped. You approved it — you either live with it or reprint it. Reprinting a job often leaves its cost-effectiveness in ruins.

But it’s easy to avoid both the ruinous expense and the blot on your reputation.

Just be smart — before you sign the proof, send it to FastProof.

Do you need FastProof?

April 30th, 2012

What exactly is proofreading?

Everyone’s different, and their documents are different. It’s hard to make rules for them all, so we’re flexible.

FastProof is designed to be fast, inexpensive and good quality. To fulfil the promise of bringing proofreading to everyone, we correct only spelling, punctuation and basic grammar. Correcting basic grammar means fixing missing words, an incorrect plural, replacing “than” with “then” — miscellaneous things like that. We love it.

So FastProof corrects mistakes but doesn’t try to “improve” your writing — it doesn’t try to find a better word than the one you’ve used.

We take the view that your writing is perfect, but there could be unintentional flaws (as anyone might leave). We spot and correct such flaws quickly, so the price stays down. Lingering over what you’ve said to consider how one might say it better takes longer, so we don’t do that. Unless you ask us to, then we give it to WordShine.

If the author is a native English speaker, FastProof is probably all you need to polish the writing.

“S” is for possessive

April 23rd, 2012

The letter “s” is used with an apostrophe to indicate possession — as in “my aunt’s pen.” The usage goes back over 1500 years, around 450 AD, to Old English, language of the Anglo-Saxons. The language had deep roots in Latin, Ancient Greek and Sanskrit which produced a complex system of noun declensions and verb conjugations, most of which have gone now, leaving mere remnants (like this curiosity of possessiveness).

How did the genitive case work? Important nouns were given the ending “es” to indicate the genitive — the possessive case — like “the cloud’s velocity.” As time went by more and more nouns were treated like this, so by the Middle English period (1000–1400) this method of indicating the possessive applied to all nouns. But by then the letter “e” in the “es” was no longer pronounced and was redundant.

So about the middle of the 1500’s English printers began to omit a silent “e” and replace it with an apostrophe, which was hitherto a French practice. Hence “my auntes pen” became “my aunt’s pen” and remains like that today.

The practice is way behind us, so “the cates pyjamas” has become “the cat’s pyjamas”. We no longer recognise our ancestores ways!

Those thirsty for more can visit Wikipedia on Old English.

Don’t make mistakes, ok?

March 22nd, 2012

Troubled by typos? Maddened by misspellings? My best advice for you is this: don’t make mistakes.

If you take this advice, you won’t need spell checkers (which leave mistakes because they have no brain), editors (who have brains but need plenty of money) or Aunt Maisy (who’s quite skilled but often takes a nap) to check over your writing.

They won’t be needed because your writing will be perfect.

If, for some reason, you cannot heed my thoughtful counsel of perfection, send your writing to FastProof for the modern, fast and easy way to remove mistakes.

Tips and hints

March 15th, 2012

common misteak

Duplicate words

It’s easy to type little words twice and, if they end up in the sneakily right place in a paragraph, it’s hard to spot the duplication. Watch out for words like “the”,”of”, “and”, “air”, “salt”, “back”, “butt” and “but” hiding copies of themselves where you least expect them. Even longer words can get into stealth mode – words such as “wheelbarrow”, “submarine” and “international” – although not often.


Commonly misspelled words (shown with correct spelling). Continue Reading…

This is exciting

March 14th, 2012

The launch of FastProof on 20 February was followed behind the scenes by frenetic activity as we hit the phones to sign up businesses for our newsletter.

Preliminary figures show an astounding uptake above 90 percent. We’re very excited. Many businesses have been trying without success to find a proofreader, and FastProof finally gives them an easy solution. Time will tell – when these subscriptions get converted into sales.

Big companies have proofreaders on their staff, but small to medium companies can’t afford it. Individuals don’t use a proofreader! You and I only need a proofreader about every five or ten years to check our cv, but who knows how to get one or how much to pay them?

FastProof is the simple, economical answer for us all.

Writing is reason

February 20th, 2012

We all hope and expect to be ruled by reason.

Years before we become adults, our childish instincts are firmly aligned with fair play. The child’s strident cry of “that’s not fair!” is invariably well-founded, but where does it come from?

The first source is the natural, innate sense of fairness. Later we gain access to a more detached, educated, adult understanding of justice.

Between the childish sense of fairness and the adult construction of justice lie years of exposure to varying levels of reason. Language links them together. Continue Reading…