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How to start proofreading

by: Garry Pierrepont (13 July 2011)

Do you fancy having a crack at proofreading? What gave you the idea of being a proofreader? It's not the first thing that comes to mind when young people are asked what they'd liked to do for a career!

More usually proofreading occurs to people who like reading and have an interest in correct English grammar and spelling. Proofreading may also suit people who are not looking for a nine to five, five days a week job, as many proofreaders are freelancers.

If you think proofreading may be of interest to you, then the first question I'd ask is: Do you read a lot? i.e. do you read every day?

There is no better training and practice for proofreading than to read, keep reading and read a lot: books, magazines, newspapers, websites, road signs, grocers' signs (!) – the lot. Indeed, dont just read passively; make it a priority.

Secondly: Do you spot mistakes in the books you read?

If you don't, then you need to start spotting them; there are very few books out there without any mistakes, even books that have been around for many years and have had many reprints. I'm not just talking about weak grammar; I mean fundamental errors in spelling or in typographical layout: e.g. once again appearing as oncea gain. I saw this in Penguin’s 1994 paperback version of Wilkie Collins's The Woman in White just the other day.

If you read a lot, have a good grasp of English grammar and spelling, and regularly find mistakes in what you read, then proofreading might be for you. The next thing to do is to take a course.

See our article on proofreading courses for more information.

Once you have completed the course, you will have a much better idea of whether proofreading is for you.

In the meantime, keep on reading!

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