Proofreading – WDYD Series

“I need a proofreader…”

This statement is typically said by a potential client when they have a piece of writing nearly ready for publication. But does the client know what exactly a proofreader does? These clients all asked for “proofreaders” for their work:

Client A says, “Document previously edited. Needs a final check of spelling and grammar.”

Client B says, “Document needs to be checked for spelling and grammar errors. The proofreader may rewrite sentences if needed for clarity.”

Client C says, “You need to check spelling, grammar, and rewrite unclear sentences. Please help maintain style through the writing. Fact-checking required as well.”

Which client requires a proofreader? If you answered Client A, you’re correct!

If you didn’t answer correctly, it’s not entirely your fault. Many people believe proofreading, editing, and copyediting are the same thing. Just as explaining the intricacies of your job may be confusing to a layperson, explaining the different types of editing can be tricky. But I’m here to clear the confusion.

So, what is proofreading?

  1. Proofreading is the final step – the last minute corrections – before publishing.
  2. Proofreading is done after the writing is reviewed and revised by an editor (or editors!).
  3. Proofreading ensures the final draft of the writing is free of spelling and grammatical errors, typos, and other mistakes that the writer, editors, and designers may have missed or created.

Who should hire a proofreader?

  • Writers who want an extra eye on their writing after an editor has revised.
  • Writers who speak English as a second language or didn’t do so well in English classes.
  • Writers who are serious about publishing their writing error-free.

How does a proofreader work?

A proofreader receives the final draft of a writing. This is the final draft after revising from editors and formatting by designers. The proofreader discusses the process with the writer. Many proofreaders work remotely and electronically, using technology such as Microsoft Word’s Track Changes feature. But some proofreaders still kick it old school and print a hard copy, then manually markup the document with proofreading marks. These marks are shorthand symbols that show what corrections need to be made.

What should I look for in my proofreader?

  • Experience is a must. The proofreader should be able to tell you (and show you!) previous projects. Ask for their background in proofreading and portfolio.
  • Proper grammar and excellent spelling ability. If you’re profreader have problems with simple speeling and grammar in communications, u probly should’nt hire them. (Yes, it was truly a pain to write that previous sentence.)
  • Someone with an eye for detail. Proofreading is for a meticulous personality. Someone who can use a fine-toothed comb and enjoys taking his or her time reading through the writing. Spell check and Grammarly can only catch blatant errors. Make sure your proofreader is mechanically going through your writing.

If you’re ready for your writing to be published, take a step back and ask yourself: Am I 100% positive my writing is completely free of all errors?

If you have any doubt, hire a proofreader to put your mind at ease. I understand the stress of perfecting every single page of my own writing, and I would love to take that stress away from you.


This is part of the What Do You Do series.

For more posts in this series, check out:

CV + Resume Writing and Editing




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