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Proofreader

Proofreaders check text before it's printed or published to make sure it's correct and complete.

Salary, a pound sign Salary: Variable average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: Variable per week

1. Entry requirements

There are no set requirements, but employers may expect you to have a degree in a relevant subject like English, publishing or media studies.

It may help to have experience in publishing, journalism or other related areas, or to have taken a proofreading course.

2. Skills required

You'll need:

  • the ability to concentrate for long periods
  • the ability to maintain high levels of accuracy
  • communication skills for talking to writers

3. What you'll do

You'll read documents to make sure:

  • there are no errors, like letters in the wrong order
  • the text, illustrations and diagrams are positioned correctly
  • page numbers are in the right order
  • the text follows the agreed style
  • chapter titles match the list of contents
  • there are no confusing words, column or page breaks

You may mark changes needed using British Standards Institution symbols or specialist software. You may also produce a list of any questions for the editor or writer.

4. Salary

Freelance proofreaders are usually paid an hourly rate. The Society for Editors and Proofreaders (SfEP) suggests a minimum of £22.50 an hour, but you'll negotiate this with your client.

Rates of pay will often depend on your experience.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

If you're a freelance proofreader, you'll usually work from home and arrange your own hours, based on the amount of work you have.

Working in-house for an employer, you'll usually work 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. To meet publishing deadlines you may be expected to work extra hours.

6. Career path and progression

As an experienced proofreader, you could build up your reputation as a specialist in a particular field, or approach publishing companies for work.

You could become a member of a professional body like the SfEP, Women in Publishing or the Publishers' Association, which could improve your career prospects.

Last updated: 07 December 2016