How to become a proofreader? What skills should I possess to get started? How much does a proofreader earn? Is it possible to start a career as a proofreader without experience?
Proofreading is a skill that you can master regardless of experience or education. It’s an integral part of the editorial process, whether working with a professional editor or proofing your work.
Over the next few years, the proofreading employment rate (https://www.recruiter.com/careers/proofreaders-and-copy-markers/outlook/) has increased by 5.92%
Proofreading employment rate
According to careerexplorer.com, there are currently an estimated 14,200 proofreaders in the United States. The proofreader job market is expected to grow by 1.4% between 2016 and 2026. (careers/proofreader/job-market/)
Proofreaders are professionals who read documents and ensure they meet quality standards before publication. Their job is to correct spelling, grammar, punctuation, capitalization, and other errors, and it’s the final step before publishing a book or article.
The best way to learn how to proofread is by doing an internship in this field, and it will give you hands-on experience and help you understand what goes into proofreading. You can also take online courses on how to become a proofreader to supplement the process of becoming a proofreader.
In addition, there are many free resources available for those interested in learning more about becoming a proofreader. In fact, some websites offer crash courses, tips for newbies, and even classes on how to become a professional proofreader.
And this post is one of those free resources that can surely help you start with proofreading.
So if you are excited to start your proofreading career, then continue reading. I’ll try my best to answer questions swirling around in your head and give you a step-by-step process to becoming a proofreader.
Let’s dive right in…
Before you jump into how to become a proofreader, let me explain what exactly proofreading is.
What is Proofreading?
Proofreading is the process of checking written material for accuracy and consistency. For example, when you write an essay, you want to make sure that all sentences flow smoothly from one to another. The same applies to books, articles, and any other written work.
You may not realize it, but many people are involved in the writing process, including editors, copy editors, proofreaders, and designers. Each person has a role in ensuring that the content is accurate and consistent.
Proofreaders are usually hired after the entire document is completed. They go through each page and make sure that no mistakes are made during the writing process.
They check for spelling, grammar, punctuation, capitalization, and other inconsistencies. If a mistake is found, they fix it.
It’s important to note that proofreading is not limited to correcting mistakes but includes finding ways to improve the piece’s overall quality. For instance, a good proofreader would look at the text’s tone. Does it sound formal or informal? Are paragraphs well organized? Do the words flow naturally?
Apart from this, proofreaders also pay attention to formatting issues such as font size, spacing between lines, margins, etc.
Many tools allow you to do most of these things automatically. However, some tasks still require human intervention.
Is There any Difference Between Proofreaders and Editors?
The main difference between proofreaders and editors is that editors have the final say over the content.
It means that they decide whether something should stay or go. In contrast, proofreaders only correct errors but don’t finalize the content.
If you’re wondering why someone would hire both a proofreader and editor, here’s the reason:
An editor reviews a draft before sending it to the client and provides feedback to the writer. They might suggest rewording, adding more information, or removing unnecessary details.
An editor often hires proofreaders because they are familiar with the publication’s style. And also knows the rules of the publishing industry and understands how to format documents correctly.
So, if you’re considering becoming a proofreader, keep in mind that you won’t be able to make editorial decisions.
However, you still play an essential role in ensuring that the content is error-free.
Types of Proofreaders
There are 6 types of proofreaders –
Online proofreaders – help businesses proofread their web content, emails, blogs, social media posts, etc. Online proofreaders offer a wide range of services, and some focus on specific industries, while others specialize in particular niches.
Publisher Proofreader – These professionals work for publishers and companies who publish books, magazines, newspapers, and journals. Their job is to ensure that the content is free of grammatical and stylistic errors.
Legal Proofreader – Law firms, legal offices, and government agencies hire proofreaders who ensure that all written materials comply with legal standards.
News Proofreader – News organizations usually employ news proofreaders. Their job is to check articles for spelling, grammar, and factual accuracy, and they are also responsible for checking headlines, subheads, and captions.
Technical Proofreader – Technical proofreaders, are employed to check technical manuals, software documentation, and other technical writing.
Freelance Proofreader – Freelance proofreaders are self-employed individuals who perform freelance proofreading for clients and companies. They may charge anywhere from $10-$30 per hour.
Who Can Expect To Become a Proofreader?
Anyone who wants to get into content writing, editing, and publishing can consider becoming a proofreader. There are no specific requirements.
In fact, anyone with basic knowledge of English can start doing proofreading jobs.
Most proofreaders are freelancers who work on projects remotely. Some companies offer training programs for aspiring proofreaders.
You could also take online courses or free training to learn how to proofread effectively.
Quite a few companies offer training programs specifically designed to teach aspiring proofreaders.
Some employers even prefer hiring candidates who already have experience editing articles.
Skills and Qualities to Become a Proofreader
Proofreading is a skill that requires patience, diligence, and accuracy. It’s easy to spot spelling errors and grammatical mistakes. But a lot more goes into proofreading than just spotting them.
Here are some Skills and Qualities you’ll need to develop to become a successful proofreader:
Writing skills are essential when you want to become a proofreader. Good writers understand grammar and punctuation and know how to write clearly and concisely. If you’re not good at writing, you may struggle to proofread well.
Editing is another key quality to possess as a proofreader, and you must identify what needs to be changed and how to do it.
For instance, you might notice that the author has used too many commas. Or maybe the text contains several typos. It’s your responsibility to fix these issues to ensure the article is error-free.
3) Attention to Detail
When you read through an article, you must focus on every detail. You need to look at each sentence carefully. Notice all punctuation marks, capital letters, and numbers. Pay close attention to any misspelled words and typos. You tend to overlook small things while reading.
- Organizational Skills – Being organized helps you stay focused and productive. When you’re working on multiple tasks simultaneously, being organized means you don’t waste time switching between them.
- -Time Management Skills – Managing your time is crucial when you want to become better at proofreading. It will help you avoid wasting time on unproductive activities.
4) Fluency in Grammar
Your ability to write well depends on your fluency in grammar. Grammar refers to language rules, including tense, verb conjugations, word usage, and spelling.
Grammar isn’t just limited to written communication. It applies to spoken language too. For example, when you speak, you use vocabulary. The way you use your vocabulary affects your overall fluency.
Accuracy is another important quality when it comes to proofreading. Make sure that everything you read has been written correctly. Not just that, but you should check for consistency across different parts of the document. For instance, if several paragraphs have similar content, make sure that those paragraphs are consistent formatting.
If you notice any inconsistencies, correct them immediately, as it will help improve your accuracy level.
As mentioned above, proofreading is tedious. It would be best if you were patient while reading through an article, and you may find yourself correcting several mistakes throughout one paragraph.
This is probably the most challenging part of being a proofreader. You need to maintain self-discipline when you’re working on a project. If you don’t stick to the schedule, you may end up wasting time. If this happens, you’ll lose money.
8) Good Communication Skills
Good communication skills are essential for proofing, so you should always communicate clearly with the author about any changes you want to make. It can increase your chances of getting hired as a proofreader.
9) Knowledge of Publishing Standards
Knowledge of publishing standards is crucial when you’re proofreading books and magazines. You need to know what types of formatting are acceptable, and this will help you determine whether or not something needs to be changed.
10) Experience with Different Types of Content
You’ll need to be familiar with different types of content. For example, you’ll need to understand how to edit technical documents or business reports. Because there are so many different kinds of writing, you’ll need to learn new skills quickly.
11) Ability to Work Under Pressure
If you want to earn a living as a proofreader, you’ll need to be able to handle pressure. You’ll often have to work under tight deadlines. If you can’t meet these deadlines, you won’t get paid.
12) Ability to Work Remotely
It’s possible to work remotely as a proofreader. However, you’ll need to have a strong internet connection, and you’ll also need to be comfortable using online tools such as Google Docs, Dropbox, and Evernote. Many proofreaders work from home, do their jobs while sitting in front of their computers, and work from coffee shops or libraries.
Flexibility is another important quality when it comes to becoming a proofreader. You’ll need to be willing to adapt to changing circumstances. In some cases, you might have to change your plans at the last minute. You may also need to switch between different editing types of content.
Dedication is also significant when it comes to becoming a proofreader. You need to put in extra effort when you’re working on projects. Proofreading is a full-time job. So, you shouldn’t expect to get paid much if you only do it occasionally.
15) Language Skills
Proofreading requires good language skills. You’ll need to read articles carefully and identify grammatical errors. It’s also necessary to be familiar with standard abbreviations and acronyms. Most importantly, you’ll need to speak fluent English.
16) Computer & Software Skills
To become a successful proofreader, you’ll also need computer skills. Basic knowledge of Microsoft Office and familiarity with software like Google Docs and Adobe PDF are a plus.
You’ll also need experience with word processing programs. Most people use desktop publishing (DTP) software to create documents, and therefore, you’ll need to know how to use DTP software too. “Adobe InDesign” is the king of DTP.
Tools & Equipment
There are plenty of tools available to help you start your proofreading career. Here are some of the best ones: –
You’ll need a powerful PC to run all the software you’ll use. Make sure that it has plenty of RAM and storage space. You’ll also need high-speed internet access.
2. Word Processing Programs
There are several popular word-processing programs available today. (MS Word, Google docs). Each program has its advantages and disadvantages. Choose one according to your needs. You should have file-sharing software installed on your computer because it will help you share files easily among team members.
3. Grammar Checker
You’ll need a grammar checker to spot mistakes in your writing. Such as Grammarly, which checks spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors in documents.
4. Writing Tools
Writing tools can help you write more efficiently. Examples, are Hemingway, Grammarly and ProWritingAid, and more.
Spellchecker – You’ll need an effective spellchecker to find misspelled words. Good examples include the built-in spellcheckers of Microsoft Word. If you prefer using third-party apps, try these: –
- Grammarly – Grammarly is a free online tool that finds spelling and grammar mistakes.
- Grammarly Business – This allows users to check multiple files simultaneously.
- ProWriting Aid – Finds spelling, grammar, and formatting problems.
- Hemingway App – Helps writers avoid clichés and improve their style.
- Ginger Software – Creates professional-looking resumes and cover letters.
Qualifications & Certification You Need to Become a Proofreading
What capabilities do you need to become a proofreader?
Having a college degree is not always required. However, most companies love to hire those who have degrees because they’re usually more experienced and proven to be reliable.
Relevant qualifications include:
- A GCSE (General Certificate of Secondary Education) in English (if you’re from the UK)
- Be proficient in written and spoken English.
- Have a Bachelor’s degree or higher. Or a university degree in English, journalism, or publishing.
- Proofreading qualifications – the best way to gain entry into this role is by enrolling in Proofread Anywhere by Caitlin. This can help you prepare and build all the skills you need to become a proofreader.
If you don’t have any formal education yet, you may want to consider taking courses or enrolling in training programs like the one above.
Some proofreaders learn by doing while others take classes. Either way, you must be willing to put in the time and effort to get where you want to go.
If you want to work in a specific industry, ensure relevant certifications or training.
But if you don’t have any formal education, you can start by learning the basics first.
Here’s what you must know before starting your proofreading career: –
- How to read and understand written English.
- The difference between passive voice and active voice.
- How to identify common grammatical errors.
- How to spot different types of typos and grammatical errors
Once you have the basic knowledge about reading and writing, it’s time to start practicing.
You can join a local community of proofreaders or look for freelance opportunities. Freelance proofreading is excellent because you can choose when and how much you want to work.
A good place to start looking for freelance proofreading gigs is Upwork. It’s one of the largest freelancing websites with over 1 million registered professionals.
Upwork has many categories, including editing, content creation, and translation.
Certification is a great way to prove that you know what you’re doing. When employers see a certificate, they assume that you’ve gone beyond just learning the basics.
There are various levels of proofreading certifications available. Here are some of them:
- American Copy Editors Society (ACES) – ACES offers three levels of certification: Certified Editor, Professional Editor, and Master Editor.
- You can get a certificate from organizations such as the NYU (School of Professional Studies), UCR (University Extension Professional studies) and universalclass.com
How To Become a Proofreader
In this section, I will walk you through a step-by-step process that can help you become a proofreader.
I’ll explain how to prepare yourself for the proofreading profession, how to find a proofreading job, and how to become a professional proofreader.
Step 1: Get Educated
Proofreading requires a lot of patience, attention to detail, and a strong understanding of grammar and spelling rules. If you don’t have these qualities, proofreading is not for you.
So, before you start working as a proofreader, make sure that you develop all the required skills.
The best way to improve your proofreading skills is to get educated, and there are many ways to do so.
Some people prefer to study at university. But there are also other options like taking online courses, attending classes in person, or simply watching videos on YouTube.
One of the best ways to improve your proofreading skill is by getting an internship. An internship gives you hands-on experience, which helps you develop proofreading skills faster than studying alone. You can go to google and search for “Proofreading internship” to find online internship opportunities.
If you’re interested in improving your proofreading skills, consider enrolling in a proofreading course. These courses teach you everything you need to know about proofreading.
Step 2: Decide a Niche
Once you’ve learned the basic skills, you need to figure out the niche you want to work with.
For this, you need to think about the type of proofreader you want to become. You should choose a niche that aligns with your interests and expertise level.
For example, if you enjoy reading books and are also used to catching grammatical errors while reading, you might want to become a book proofreader.
There is one more thing that you might want to look at: who do you want to help? Maybe you want to help a student get their paper & document proofread, or perhaps you want to help a business owner edit their documents.
So, it’s essential to understand the kind of clients you want to work with because it will affect the type of editing & proofreading you do.
Here’s another tip: when choosing a niche, remember that it’s not always necessary to specialize in one area. It’s okay to work on different niches simultaneously because it gives you more flexibility and grows your portfolio.
However, if you specialize in legal, technical, and medical proofreading, you can expect to earn more than a general proofreader.
Step 3: Learn Proofreading Rules
Now that you’ve chosen a niche let’s talk about what proofreading entails.
First, proofreading involves checking the accuracy of written content. For instance, you check whether the writer has correctly spelled words, uses proper punctuation, and writes sentences correctly.
You may also check the content for mistakes such as typos, missing information, and incorrect formatting.
In addition, you need to be aware of the following proofreading rules. These rules include capitalization, punctuation, abbreviations, contractions, hyphens, and apostrophes.
Not just that, you need to learn how to read and interpret the text, and this means understanding the meaning of a sentence, paragraph, and even a whole piece of writing.
This includes understanding the purpose of each word, phrase, and sentence.
It also requires knowing the difference between formal and informal language. Formal language is appropriate for professional settings, whereas informal language is acceptable in casual conversations.
Finally, you’ll be expected to spot spelling mistakes and grammar errors.
It’s easy to see why learning these rules is so important. If you don’t know them, you won’t catch all the errors.
The Basic Proofreading Rules –
- Capitalization – The first step in proofreading is ensuring that every word starts with a capital letter. It includes titles, names, company names, and other words that start with a capital letter. Generally, you can capitalize every noun, pronoun, adjective, and verb.
- Punctuation – The correct way to end a sentence is by using full stops (periods), question marks, exclamation points, colons, semicolons, commas, dashes, brackets, parentheses, quotation marks, and italics.
- Abbreviations – Abbreviations are shortened forms of words. They’re commonly used in correspondence but should be avoided in formal writing.
- Contractions – Contractions are two-word phrases where only one word is contracted. For example, “I’m” instead of “I am.”
- Apostrophe – An apostrophe is used to indicate possession or ownership. It’s a punctuation mark (‘) used to indicate either possession (e.g., Harry’s book; boys’ coats ) or the omission of letters or numbers (e.g., can’t; he’s; 1 Jan.‘ 99 ) from google
- Spelling – Spelling refers to the arrangement of letters within words. There are many types of spelling, including regular spelling, irregular spelling, homophones, and homographs.
- Grammar – Grammar is the study of the parts of speech. Parts of speech include verbs, nouns, adjectives, adverbs, prepositional phrases, conjunctions, interjections, and pronouns.
- Reading Comprehension – Reading comprehension is the ability to comprehend the meaning of a passage.
- Formatting – Formatting is the text arrangement on the page. It includes margins, indenting, spacing, font size, and style.
- Style – Style is the overall appearance of your work, and it includes fonts, colors, and other visual elements.
- Plagiarism – As a proofreader, it’s essential to check for plagiarism. Plagiarism occurs when someone takes another person’s ideas and passes them off as their own.
- Sentence structure – Sentence structure involves the order of words within sentences. It includes determining subject-verb agreement problems, passive voice, and dangling modifiers.
- Word choice – Word choice involves choosing the best words to use. It includes deciding which words will help readers understand what you want to say and which are too complicated.
Step 4: Practice More & Master Your Craft
Proofreading is an art that can take years to master. You need to practice reading and editing documents until you become proficient at catching errors.
No matter how much time you spend practicing, you’ll never get good enough to catch everything. That’s because even if you read a document 50 times, you might miss some mistakes.
So, you need to keep practicing. You also need to learn how to edit documents efficiently. If you don’t have the right tools, you won’t do this effectively.
In addition to having the right tools, you need to know how to use them. And that means learning how to find errors quickly.
Here are some things you can do to improve your skills:
- Read more than you write. Read newspapers, magazines, books, blogs, etc. It helps you develop your vocabulary and improves your grammar.
- Practice editing documents. Edit a few different documents every day. Then review them with a friend or editor.
- Learn about the English language. Find a dictionary and look up unfamiliar words.
- Get feedback. Ask friends, family members, teachers, or editors to provide feedback on your work.
Step 5: Get A Freelance Proofreading Job
Once you’ve mastered all these skills, you’re ready to apply for a FREELANCE job as an entry-level proofreader.
But before applying for a job, you need to get a fresher resume. Here’s why:
- Resumes are essential, and they show employers that you’re interested in working for them. So, make sure yours looks great!
- Make sure you highlight your strengths.
- Don’t forget to add keywords. Keywords are words that describe your experience and skills. When employers search online, they use keywords to find candidates who match their needs.
- Include a cover letter. The cover letter explains why you’re qualified for the job and why you’d like to work for the company.
- Keep it short. No one wants to read a long, boring resume.
Helpful Resource: How to Write a Fresher Resume: Tips and Samples
Once you have a fresher resume, you’re ready to start looking for freelance proofreading jobs.
You can post your resume online through websites like Upwork, Guru, Fiverr, and PeoplePerHour. These sites allow freelancers from around the world to bid on projects.
You can go to job boards like Indeed, SimplyHired, and CareerBuilder for advanced job opportunities.
The more proofreading work you do, the better you’ll become at spotting errors. As you grow more experienced, you’ll be able to charge higher rates.
It will also help you build a strong portfolio. And once you have a lot of samples, you’ll be able to start your own proofreading business.
Step 6: Start your own proofreading business from home
So far, you have learned –
- What it takes to become a professional proofreader
- How to become a better proofreader
- How you can get a freelance proofreading job
Now, it’s time to put what you’ve learned into action.
Starting your own proofreading business can be a great decision to get the most out of your Proofreading career.
To get started, first, decide whether you want to run a solo proofreading business or join a team.
If you choose to start your own proofreading business, then consider taking the following steps:
Create A Service Page/blog/website – Create a website where potential clients can learn more about your services. You can create this page using Squarespace, Wix, and WordPress platforms. (How to start a blog in 2022)
Showcase your expertise – You can add your experience, resume, certification, and other credentials to your service page, and it will help potential clients know that you’re skilled and trustworthy.
Offer proofreading packages – Offer different proofreading packages depending on the type of project. For example, if you’re new to the industry, offer a free trial package. This way, you can see how well you work with clients and how much you can charge. (Make sure you offer competitive pricing)
Start building relationships – Once you have a good reputation as a proofreader, think about reaching out to editors and publishers, they may need someone to proofread their content.
Promote your service to your target audience – Run Google ads, Facebook ads, and LinkedIn ads. Build a list of potential customers. Use email marketing tools such as MailChimp and Constant Contact to send personalized emails to your target audience.
Grow your proofreading business – You need to continue offering quality proofreading services to grow your proofreading business. If you provide high-quality work, you’ll attract more clients.
As you gain more experience, you’ll improve your skills and increase your prices. You can use testimonials from your existing clients to acquire more customers.
Once you have a steady stream of clients, you can invest in laboring to streamline your workflow.
For instance, you can hire virtual assistants to handle administrative tasks for you so that you can focus on client projects.
How Much Money Can You Make As A Proofreader?
According to Salary.com, the average proofreader makes $52,000 in the USA. That means you could make at least $12 – $20 per hour. However, the median salary is only around $41,000.
But if you are running your proofreading business, you can charge up to $35/hr. Based on your skill level and experience.
The best part is that you don’t have to quit your job to become a proofreader, and all you need to do is build a strong portfolio and network.
Benefits of Becoming a Proofreader
Proofreading allows you to earn money while correcting errors from home. It’s one of the most rewarding careers because you get paid to read what others write.
It doesn’t matter if you’re working for yourself or joining a team. Proofreading is a great side hustle that can supplement your income.
It’s one of the most flexible jobs available. You can work from home, which gives you more control over your schedule.
Proofreading allows you to earn extra money without quitting your day job. You can choose when and what types of projects you want to take on.
If you’re looking for something flexible, proofreading might be the right career option for you.
20 + Best Proofreading Tips to Master Your Craft
- Read the entire article before starting to proofread.
- Make sure there aren’t any spelling errors.
- Check for any grammatical errors.
- Look for any factual inaccuracies.
- Check for consistency throughout the document.
- Read the title first.
- Then, go through the introduction section.
- Next, read the subheadings and body paragraphs.
- Finally, read the conclusion.
- Be aware of the context.
- Pay attention to the tone of the author’s voice.
- Use active listening skills.
- Ask questions to yourself
- Try to understand the message being conveyed by the author.
- Don’t skip over sections.
- Remember the purpose of every word.
- Understand the structure of a sentence.
- Notice the differences between formal and informal language
- Spot spelling mistakes and grammar errors quickly.
- Find common errors such as using too many commas, misspelling words, etc.
Proofreading is a crucial step in the editing process, and it helps ensure that the content is error-free.
Although becoming a proofreader isn’t easy, with proper training, dedication, and practice, you can master this skill.
It’s one of the high-paying work-from-home job opportunities to supplement your income.
If you wish to become a proofreader, I recommend reading this post thoroughly. I’ve provided all the information you’ll ever need to know about proofreading.
I hope you found this post helpful. If so, please share it on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.
Do you have any questions? Let me know in the comment section…