How to Be a Proofreader & Get Paid

Proofreading involves detecting spelling and grammar mistakes.
Proofreading involves detecting spelling and grammar mistakes. (Image: Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

If you see typos, grammatical mistakes and other errors in writing that make you wish you could correct them, you should consider a career in proofreading. Proofreaders correct a final draft for any spelling, usage or grammatical errors that slipped past other editors. The occupation requires a keen eye and meticulous attention to detail, as well as knowledge of style guides and English grammar.

Things You'll Need

  • Computer
  • Fax Machine
  • Printer
  • Phone
  • Chicago Manual of Style

Enroll in an associate or bachelor’s degree program in English, communication, journalism or public relations. These fields give students an understanding of how to use English properly. An English degree exposes students to quality writing, which improves their knowledge of writing styles. Whichever educational path you choose, focus on classes on grammar, styles and proper English usage.

Study the Chicago Manual of Style intensively to deepen your knowledge of grammar and English language usage. In addition, the Chicago Manual of Style teaches readers which marks and notations to use when proofreading. Although not every publisher uses the Chicago Manual of Style, this manual has become the baseline for style guides used at individual companies.

Volunteer your services to gain experience. If you do not have previous proofreading experience, start out by taking unpaid jobs to prove your skills. Approach restaurants and cafes about proofreading their menus. Nonprofit organizations also need volunteers to help them prepare printed and online materials. Put whatever volunteer proofreading work you do into a portfolio to show prospective employers or clients.

Search for jobs. Do not simply submit your resume to newspapers or publishing houses. Schedule meetings with human resources personnel and editors to develop a strategy to break into the proofreading field. Enlist your friends to help you. They can pass along your resume and recommend you to prospective employers.

Set up an office and become a freelance proofreader. In order to establish a freelance proofreading business, you need a few tools that you may already have: a computer, Internet connection, email account, printer, fax machine and phone line. Place advertisements in local publications to get the word out. Reach out to local businesses to create a customer base.

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