Proofreaders review copy to check for things like grammar, spelling, syntax and formatting errors. Unlike editors, they don’t make recommendations to improve copy in any way. Their job is to simply do a final check before publication.
Many proofreaders specialise in a particular field, such as business, finance, law or medicine, while others are employed by companies and publishing houses to proofread books, articles and all sorts of other copy.
Duties and responsibilities
- Review and mark copy for grammar, spelling, punctuation or formatting issues
- Route proofs to authors, editors, typists or typesetters for correction or reprinting
- Consult authors and editors regarding copy changes and suggestions
- Read corrected copies or proofs to ensure all corrections have been made
- Prepare electronic or otherwise manuscripts
- Check copy for coherence and uniformity to a house style
- Consult reference books to check grammar and composition rules
- Write original content such as headlines and captions
Skills and knowledge
AVERAGE WORKING HOURS
Standard business hours
You will typically work in an office setting within a larger editorial team, although remote work is possible, particularly if you’re self-employed or work on a freelance basis.
You will work a standard 40-hour workweek if employed by a publication, but long, irregular hours may be required if you’re self-employed and you work for international clients in different time zones.
The work can be stressful at times, particularly during busy periods or when working towards a deadline.
Annual salary estimates are based on percentile wage data collected through the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey of US workers.
Bachelor’s degree in English or related subject
Most employers hire candidates with a bachelor’s degree in English, journalism, publishing or a related subject, although you will still be able to find employment upon completing a two-year associate’s degree. Some employers will hire you if you don’t have any formal education, as long as you have extensive experience in proofreading.
You will generally start in a junior position as proofreader and work your way up to senior proofreader, where you will manage a team of other proofreaders.
With experience, you could build up your reputation as a specialist in a particular field, enabling you to approach publishing companies for work. You could even set up your own proofreading business, or move to an editorial role with more responsibility.