Proofreaders examine facsimiles of the finished products such as books, newspaper and magazines. They correct grammatical, typographical and spelling errors in order to ensure the quality of the printed product.

The duties of a proofreader include, but are not limited to:

  • Reading over all material to ensure that spelling, grammar, punctuation, and other mechanics are correct
  • Suggesting changes to improve clarity or style of writing as needed
  • Editing documents to ensure that they are free from errors in grammar, spelling, punctuation, etc.
  • Communicating with writers about any questions regarding unclear wording or inconsistency in style
  • Reviewing documents for typos and grammatical errors to ensure high quality publishing standards
  • Identifying any potential copyright issues in the text, including plagiarism or violation of rights of privacy or libel laws
  • Reading material aloud to detect awkward phrasing or other issues that may not be evident when reading silently
  • Applying formatting instructions for text, tables, figures, charts, photographs, etc.
  • Reviewing materials to ensure that they contain accurate information

Other titles

The following job titles also refer to proofreader:

proof reading clerk
proof reader

Working conditions

Most proofreaders work in an office environment, either in-house for a company or as part of a team of freelancers. They may also work from home, either as employees or as contractors. Proofreaders typically work regular business hours, although they may be required to work evenings and weekends to meet deadlines. The work can be stressful, as proofreaders must be able to concentrate for long periods of time and pay close attention to detail. They must also have the stamina to sit for long periods of time.

Minimum qualifications

A bachelor’s degree is often a minimum requirement to become a proofreader. Some employers may prefer a degree in English, journalism or another related field. Courses in grammar, spelling and style can be found in these disciplines.

Most employers will provide on-the-job training for proofreaders. This training will typically include instruction on the company’s style guide and how to use the computer software they use. Some employers may also provide instruction on how to use the types of documents they proofread.

ISCO skill level

ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:

  • the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
  • the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
  • the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.

Proofreader is a Skill level 2 occupation.

Proofreader career path

Similar occupations

These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to proofreader.

foreign language correspondence clerk
prepress operator

Long term prospects

These occupations require some skills and knowledge of proofreader. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of proofreader with a significant experience and/or extensive training.

publishing rights manager
court reporter
medical transcriptionist

Essential knowledge and skills

Essential knowledge

This knowledge should be acquired through learning to fulfill the role of proofreader.

  • Spelling: The rules concerning the way words are spelled.
  • Grammar: The set of structural rules governing the composition of clauses, phrases, and words in any given natural language.
  • Copyright legislation: Legislation describing the protection of the rights of original authors over their work, and how others can use it.

Essential skills and competences

These skills are necessary for the role of proofreader.

  • Follow work schedule: Manage the sequence of activities in order to deliver completed work on agreed deadlines by following a work schedule.
  • Master language rules: Master the techniques and practices of the languages to be translated. This includes both your own native language, as well as foreign languages. Be familiar with applicable standards and rules and identify the proper expressions and words to use.
  • Proofread text: Read a text thoroughly, search for, review and correct errors to ensure content is valid for publishing.
  • Apply grammar and spelling rules: Apply the rules of spelling and grammar and ensure consistency throughout texts.
  • Use dictionaries: Use glossaries and dictionaries to search for the meaning, the spelling, and synonyms of words.

Optional knowledge and skills

Optional knowledge

This knowledge is sometimes, but not always, required for the role of proofreader. However, mastering this knowledge allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Typography: The procedure of arranging written texts for printing processes.
  • Proofing methods: Various proofing methods are needed for certain kinds of products. They range from soft proofing, which presents the result on a monitor, to hard proofing, where an actual printed sample of the product is obtained.

Optional skills and competences

These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of proofreader. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Apply desktop publishing techniques: Apply desktop publishing techniques and software to create page layouts and typographic quality text.
  • Consult information sources: Consult relevant information sources to find inspiration, to educate yourself on certain topics and to acquire background information.
  • Read articles: Read unpublished articles thoroughly to look for errors.
  • Consult with editor: Consult with the editor of a book, magazine, journal or other publications about expectations, requirements, and progress.
  • Lay out digital written content: Lay out pages by selecting sizes, styles and entering text and graphics into computer systems.
  • Read books: Read the latest book releases and give your opinion on them.
  • Rewrite articles: Rewrite articles to correct errors, make them more appealing to the audience, and to ensure that they fit within time and space allotments.
  • Track changes in text editing: Track changes such as grammar and spelling corrections, element additions, and other modifications when editing (digital) texts.

ISCO group and title

4413 – Coding, proof-reading and related clerks

  1. Proofreader – ESCO
  2. Proofreader Job Description: Salary, Duties, & More – Climb the Ladder
Last updated on December 1, 2022

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