Becoming a Proofreader, What It Takes?

Working as a proofreader, particularly on a freelance basis, is the dream of many people who are looking to either carve up a proofreading career or looking to supplement their income with an extra source of cash through work for proofreading services companies.

A widely asked question, on online forums, social media platforms and everywhere, is how to become a proofreader.


To become a proofreader, there are a number of essential criteria that you must fulfil first. These criteria I have laid out below in the form of questions that you should ask yourself once you start thinking about becoming a proofreader, and I have provided guidance on how to achieve them, in the form of answers.

A) Am I good enough the English grammar?

B) Am I able to spot language mistakes in written text I read?

C) Am I confident enough about my English language competency?

D) Am I good at distinguishing between what is American English and what is British English?

E) Have I read enough about the proofreading profession itself?

If your answer to these questions is mostly no, you had better start thinking rationally and carefully about how to begin your path towards a proofreader career.

You should work and do all you can to achieve the purpose of the above-mentioned questions.

Let me explain to you, one by one.

A) To be good enough at the English grammar you need to develop your knowledge and information about the rules of how the English grammar works. To achieve this knowledge, you need to read books that discuss English grammar issues. You need to develop proper grounding in the use of tenses, conjunctions, modifiers, pronouns, etc. Alternatively, be an avid follower of well-reputed forums and freely accessible websites dedicated to grammar-related discussions.

B) Spotting mistakes in a written text is sometimes a natural flair with which the person was born. However, there is certainly a lot of room for developing this skill through study, examination and practice. Think of it as a gradual process. First, start with a small piece of writing that you are certain includes mistakes and errors. Read it carefully, and entirely, not only once but three times, each time with greater scrutiny and do not forget to leave a few minutes between every time you approach the text. Then, move on correcting larger and larger texts, gradually. Try to learn as you go along what are the most common errors you can see in the text. Try to learn at least one thing from each text you read.

C) Being competent enough in English is not equivalent to being a native speaker. Even native speakers without proper grounding in terms of grammar and punctuation awareness, sense of language, etc, they would not be able to work as proofreaders. Being competent in English requires grammar and punctuation awareness, sense of language, different writing structure etc. Only practice, diligence and persistence can achieve this. Read books and newspapers, go on websites related to language and try to learn as much as you can, join grammar-focused forums, and take, keep and study relevant useful notes.

D) There are several websites and books available out there that are focused on the differentiation between American and British English.

E) To work as a proofreader, you need would need to know as much as possible about this profession, what it entails, how it is done, its symbols, mechanisms, etc. Again, the Internet is a greatly valuable source where you can find a lot of useful information for those starting a proofreader career. Some places also offer courses for proofreading career aspirers. You may also wish to diversify into proofreading for certain fields such as book proofreading or academic proofreading services.