What is proofreading? Why do I need a proofreader? How much does it cost? How long does it take?

There are dozens of questions related to proofreading, but here are the answers to a few:

What is proofreading?

Proofreading is when a document is read (and reread) to detect any errors or omissions in spelling, punctuation and grammar.

It sometimes includes checking different elements of layout, such as headlines, paragraphs, illustrations etc for their correct dimensions, placement, type etc.

Every author / writer knows that a (despite the advances in modern tech) human proofreading is a valuable asset.

Why do I need a proofreader?

Research has shown that people are less likely to trust and engage with a business that makes spelling or grammatical mistakes. Why? Because it looks unprofessional.

A good business carefully manages its appearance, and copy is part of the business’ public face. If it isn’t polished, it leaves a bad impression, like getting your numbers wrong or wearing slippers to the office.

Public typo that cost a fortune:

The most expensive hyphen in history: In 1962, Mariner 1 launched in to space. It was the United States’ first attempt at an interplanetary mission. During the ascent, Fortran code language had to be used for computations. A hyphen was missing in the code, which caused the Mariner 1’s destination to change.

As a result, 5 minutes after launch the Range Safety Officer issued the destruct command on the approximate $80 million spacecraft. The spelling error ended up costing NASA millions from the failed mission.

How much does it cost?

Sadly there is no one-shoe-fits-all answer to this question. Each project is different, whether it be the word count, the subject or the time scale. All of these affect the cost.

If you have an 80,000-word fiction novel, then you are looking at a price range of £700-£1,000.

If you have a website that you want to be proofread and edited, then you are looking at £100-£400.

Each job is different, no two are alike.

The best way to price a job, is to use the SfEP suggested minimum rates as a guide.

You may find a proofreader that charges £10 an hour, but I wouldn’t advise using them as it will probably show in your final product.

How long does it take?

Different proofreaders work at different paces. Some may only read 1,000 words an hour, where others can read 3,000.

It also depends on the complexity of the text.

Article by Robyn Hunter

See proofreading course