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10 Best Proofreading Tests to Test Your Skills & Abilities

Kelan Kline | Updated May 10, 2023 Side Hustles

Proofreading test

Are you looking for a way to test your proofreading skills? Proofreading tests are an excellent way to do this!

But there are a lot of proofreading tests out there, and it can be difficult to know where to start. That’s why we have put together a list of 10 different tests for you.

We also provide resources to help you start your own proofreading side hustle!

If you excel at the tests below, it could be time to start making money as a proofreader .

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Table of Contents

Our Best Picks For Proofreading Tests

Here is a quick list of our top picks for proofreading tests:

  • Best Multiple-Choice Test: Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading
  • Best Check For Errors Test: LoveToKnow
  • Best Paid Test: EditingTests.com
  • BONUS – Best Resource For Learning How To Become A Proofreader: Proofread Anywhere

How To Become A Proofreader

Proofreading is a perfect side hustle for people who love the written word, and it isn’t hard to become a proofreader . 

Proofreaders are slightly different from editors since they are only supposed to catch errors, not suggest ways to re-write content.

The good news about this unique business idea is you don’t need to obtain certification or pay for a degree to become a professional proofreader.

You just need to practice and hone your proofreading skills. We have a few proofreading courses to check out, but we have one frontrunner to tell you about!

Caitlin Pyle’s e-course, Proofread Anywhere , is one of the best courses you can take to make your business successful.

Lucky for you, she offers a free excellent resource full of valuable information. Caitlin’s FREE workshop  will introduce you to proofreading and how to create a business that attracts your ideal proofreading clients .

Sign up for the workshop below. 

Proofreading Jobs

There are many types of proofreading jobs out there, and the formatting of each will vary depending on the type of work you do and what services you offer to your clients.

For example, you could proofread college essays or do transcript proofreading.

As a transcript proofreader, you will review writing done by court transcriptionists. Your day-to-day activities will be opening a word document, checking the transcript for errors, and marking comments on the side of the page.

This work is simple to do anywhere as long as you have a laptop, and you can earn an extra $1,000 per month !

How To Improve Your Proofreading Skills

To be a proofreader, you should have a strong understanding of English grammar rules and spelling. You can find out if you’re well suited to this profession by taking the proofreading tests we list below.

Proofreading tests will help you assess your proofreading knowledge so you can figure out what areas you should study more. These tests are a good starting point for beginner proofreaders who are unfamiliar with proofreading.

If you don’t get a minimum of 80% of the questions right on the proofreading test you choose, you may need to improve your proofreading skills and understanding of English grammar and language.

Once you know what you need to get better at, study those topics on the English For Academic Purposes website. This webpage has many resources that explain different components of grammar that you may need to learn.

Then, you can practice those skills using the exercises on the Purdue University Online Writing Lab (OWL) site. There are exercises on grammar, punctuation, spelling, sentence structure, and even using numbers in writing.

10 Proofreading Tests To Quiz Yourself

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1. Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading (CIEP)

For those considering becoming a proofreader, the Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading test is an opportunity to determine whether you’d like to take on the responsibilities of editors and professional proofreaders.

The CIEP proofreading test is a one-page PDF document with many common grammar mistakes, including punctuation, spelling, and language use. When you’re done, double-check the answer sheet to see if you caught all 20 errors.

CIEP also offers short multiple-choice proofreading tests on various language topics. While these tests are multiple-choice, they may have more than one correct answer, which you need to know as a good proofreader!

2. ProofreadNow.com

This proofreading test will help you see what your strongest proofreading skills are. It is perfect for keen people who can easily spot misspelled words and incorrect punctuation in written documents.

Take this multiple-choice proofreading test and challenge yourself on how much you know. The questions will test you on what types of common errors and how many typos you can find in ten different sentences.

If you found all of them, congratulations! You’re a good fit to be a proofreader.

3. Using English for Academic Purposes (UEfAP)

Besides having excellent free resources to polish and improve your proofreading skills, the UEfAP website also includes free proofreading tests on 11 different subjects for you to try.

These tests will help you assess your skills with different tenses, parts of speech, word order, and more!

The 11 subjects each offer more than one test, and some of the tests are very advanced. This is a great website to use if you want to challenge yourself and your proofreading skills.

4. Om Proofreading

The Om Proofreading test is a multiple-choice proofreading quiz that focuses on spelling mistakes. Most of the words are homophones, which are words that sound the same but are spelled differently.

The Om Proofreading test is quick and doesn’t take long, but the site is helpful since there are links to other proofreading quizzes on this page as well. These tests will help you identify proofreading areas that you need to improve.

5. Earn Smart Online Class

Earn Smart Online Class has a proofreading test that is an excellent way to improve your proofreading skills and see how keen your eyes are at picking out mistakes in writing.

You have the choice of filling out the quiz online or downloading a PDF and a sheet with the correct answers.

This website also offers excellent advice and resources on becoming a proofreader, such as getting familiar with different writing styles and the most common errors you’re likely to come across.

6. AuthorityPub

AuthorityPub is a next-level test that is more challenging than the other proofreading tests. It will measure your ability to find errors that have been overlooked in the editing process.

Take note of the missing or incorrect punctuation, particularly quotation marks and apostrophes. Having a good knowledge of spelling and homophones is also helpful for this test.

7. New York Times

The New York Times has put together a quiz to test how carefully you read published writing. It includes writing issues that test both your grammar and fact-checking skills.

While you won’t need to do fact-checking when proofreading typically, this is an excellent opportunity to examine news-style excerpts for issues. The answer key is located in a PDF linked at the bottom of the page.

8. Edit Republic

Take the Edit Republic quiz if you want a super quick way to test your proofreading skills. The ten multiple-choice questions will take you just a minute or two to answer.

You can even take it while watching TV!

Plus, this question and answer style test will help identify areas of grammar that you need to study further. Once you finish the quiz, you’ll have to enter your email to get the results.

Edit Republic is a good choice if you think that the other tests or quizzes were too challenging for your skills or took too long.

9. EditingTests.com

EditingTests.com is a fantastic option with great features, including personalized reports on each section of testing, like employee assessments as the site is primarily used by employers to test their employees aptitude.

Being able to take a test that employers would use to check on their company’s skills with writing is a great way for you to test your own proficiency. 

You do pay $50 per test , but the tests are much more comprehensive and can give you a better idea of where your skills are at and how your skills will reflect in your proofreading business.

10. LoveToKnow

LoveToKnow has a printable proofreading test that entails viewing a document that has mistakes in it and marking them for correction. This PDF helps test your proofreading skills and your reading comprehension.

The test itself is on the first page of the printable document. The second page contains the answer key, which is annotated with information about each correct response.

The unique feature of this test is that it does not indicate how many errors you are supposed to find.

This will give you a taste of working as a proofreader, where your clients will not know how many mistakes they have made until you find them!

Key Takeaways

make money without a job

Since you can find so many free proofreading tests online, we have outlined the ten tests that are your best bet to figure out how good you are at finding mistakes in writing.

You don’t need a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree, or even certification to work in proofreading and editing. Just test your proofreading accuracy level by taking these proofreading tests and quizzes.

This free 76-minute workshop will teach you what it takes to become a good proofreader and help you earn money online by offering proofreading services.

Proofreading is one of the easiest ways to earn $100 a day . What are you waiting for? Take a few proofreading tests today!

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About Kelan Kline

Hi, I'm Kelan Kline! A personal finance expert, entrepreneur, and passionate money nerd. With my bachelor's degree in business and finance, my drive in life is to help others learn how to make money online, create passive streams of income, and reach financial freedom! I have been featured in online publications like Forbes, TIME, USA Today, Huffington Post, Business Insider, Marie Claire, CNBC, Acorns, The Penny Hoarder, Bankrate, Nerd Wallet, Yahoo Finance, MSN, GoBankingRates, Her Money, Thrive Global, The Simple Dollar, Money Crashers, Readers Digest, FinCon, Best Company, Rent Cafe, Romper, Intuit Turbo, Opp Loans, CreditCards.com, Debt.com, Discover, LifeLock, Quick Sprout, Money Geek and many more! Click here to read all of my posts.

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Can you ace this basic proofreading quiz.

Posted by Phil Jamieson   Mar 22, 2018 7:30:00 AM


Take our quiz to test your basic proofreading knowledge and see if you can catch every single typo. See if you can get every question right and ace the entire quiz. And don’t look for any of the answers online, so you can really step up to the challenge!

Let us know how you did in the comments below. Good luck!

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Topics: proofreading quiz , typos, typographic errors

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Home Writing & Editing Gigs Free Proofreading Tests

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12 Free Proofreading Tests to Check Your Skills

April 2, 2024

Written by:

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Jessica Norris

Jessica is a writer for SideHustles.com. Her side hustles include freelance academic writing and editing, which she's done for...

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If you’re thinking about becoming a proofreader, you might be wondering whether your skills are good enough. To find out, you can take a proofreading test.

Tests can highlight gaps in your knowledge and help you work out whether you need more training and practice. They’re also a good way to identify the skills you need to improve.

We’ve compiled a list of 12 sites with proofreading tests you can take—all for free.

01. Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading (CIEP)

Screenshot of the CIEP homepage

Who they are : The Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading (CIEP) is a British association that provides training and support for editorial professionals. They’re a well-recognized authority in the editing and publishing industries.

The test : The CIEP proofreading test comes in the form of a document that contains common mistakes and an accompanying answer sheet showing you how to correct them. The test covers many of the different types of problems that proofreaders have to deal with, including mistakes in punctuation, spelling, and language use.

Other resources : As well as their proofreading test, the CIEP site has a lot of different quizzes on proofreading-related topics, from punctuation to formatting. There’s also a blog for editorial professionals, a selection of high-quality paid courses, and lots of free resources—fact sheets, booklets, and more.

Anything else I should know? While the CIEP proofreading test is very comprehensive, it uses British English. Watch out for the differences between British and American English.

02. ProofreadNOW.com

Screenshot of the ProofreadNOW homepage

Who they are : ProofreadNOW.com is a company that offers paid proofreading services.

The test : The test on the ProofreadNOW.com website is multiple-choice and mainly checks your spelling and punctuation. A couple of the questions are a little tricky, but there are only 10 of them, so it’s fairly easy overall.

Other resources : The site also has a resources section where you can get free ebooks and white papers . There’s also a page where you can ask grammar questions (they’ll reply via email).

Anything else I should know? One of the proofreading test questions is contested by people in the comments, so this question probably has two correct answers.

03. Authority Pub

Screenshot of the Authority Pub homepage

Who they are : Authority Pub is a site that’s designed to help writers build a self-publishing business.

The test : The Authority Pub proofreading test is an entertaining letter riddled with errors that you have to correct. The answer sheet has a corrected version of the letter, which you can review when you’ve finished proofreading.

Other resources : Authority Pub has lots of informative articles on writing (and a self-publishing course for $397), but not much for proofreaders, although the website has a few tips on how to improve your proofreading skills.

Anything else I should know? The answers given on the corrected version of the letter in the proofreading test aren’t necessarily the only correct answers. Some of the errors can be corrected in more than one way.

04. Using English for Academic Purposes (UEfAP)

Screenshot of the UEfAP homepage

The test : This website has 10 proofreading tests that focus on different writing skills, including grammar, punctuation, and word use. There’s also a mixed test covering all 10 subjects. In these tests, you select the incorrect words and then type in the correct words, so it’s harder than a multiple-choice quiz. Luckily, there’s a “hint” button to help you if you get stuck.

Other resources : In addition to the tests mentioned above, the UEfAP site has another general test . Unfortunately, this one doesn’t include answers. The UEfAP also has a wealth of other resources to develop your proofreading skills, including exercises and explanations of many different aspects of language use.

Anything else I should know? This is another site that uses British English. It also focuses on academic English, and some of the tests are very advanced. Academic writing makes for great practice, as it’s one of the hardest types of writing to proofread. However, academic proofreading is quite different from many other types of proofreading (e.g., fiction proofreading), so the UEfAP’s tests aren’t all-purpose.

05. Earn Smart Online Class

Screenshot of the Earn Smart Online Class webpage

Who they are : Earn Smart Online Class is a website that offers advice about how to earn money working from home with jobs like proofreading, transcription, writing, and more.

The test : Earn Smart Online Class has a 20-question proofreading test that covers common errors in spelling and grammar, as well as homophones (words that sound the same but mean different things). It’s common for people to mix up homophones in their writing and also for spell checkers to miss these types of errors, so they’re important for proofreaders.

Other resources : The Earn Smart Online Class site features a few tips on how to get good at proofreading (including links to a free proofreading webinar from the company Proofread Anywhere ). There are also job listings, but these aren’t very up-to-date.

Anything else I should know? The test has a few tricky questions, but overall, it isn’t very hard. You should be able to get a high score fairly easily. If you don’t, you should consider whether you need to spend more time training your language skills before you take on proofreading projects.

06. Edit Republic

Screenshot showing the Edit Republic homepage

Who they are : Edit Republic is a company that offers professional courses in proofreading and editing, as well as how to start an editorial business.

The test : The Edit Republic proofreading quiz is a very quick multiple-choice test with 10 questions. It’s one of the easiest tests on our list, and you should be able to complete it in a few minutes.

Other resources : As well as the editing and proofreading courses that Edit Republic sells, they offer free training materials and other resources you can check out.

Anything else I should know? You’ll have to enter your email to get your proofreading test results.

07. Freelance Writing

Screenshot showing the FreelanceWriting homepage

Who they are : Freelance Writing is a platform for freelance writers to find work. It also directs businesses who want to hire writers to the website of a content-writing service.

The test : This proofreading test is a little different from the others on this list. Arguably, it’s more realistic. You have to find just three errors in several paragraphs, which is similar to what you’d expect if you were proofreading a text that had already gone through a round of copyediting (or was well-written enough not to need it), which will be the case for most of the pieces you’ll actually review as a proofreader.

Other resources : The Freelance Writing site has lots of resources for writers (including how-to articles, free ebooks, and information about writing competitions), but just a handful of articles specifically for proofreaders.

Anything else I should know? In theory, you’re supposed to complete the Freelance Writing proofreading test in 10 minutes. However, the site doesn’t time you, so you have to time yourself.

08. LoveToKnow

Screenshot showing the LoveToKnow homepage

Who they are : LoveToKnow is an online media company that features news, content on parenting and family life, resources for pet owners, home and garden advice, and more.

The test : The LoveToKnow site has a downloadable proofreading test, which features an email containing lots of errors. You have to correct them on a printout (or you can mark up the PDF file they provide). The answer sheet has all of the errors highlighted and provides explanations of how a proofreader should correct each one.

Other resources : There aren’t many resources for proofreaders on this site, but there’s a grammar test on the same page as the proofreading test. The site also has an article on how to proofread your own writing .

Anything else I should know? Throughout most of the proofreading test answer sheet, the errors are highlighted and left uncorrected (with annotations explaining what changes should be made). However, a couple of the corrections are made directly onto the highlighted answer sheet. Watch out for this—it can be a bit confusing.

09. Sporcle

Screenshot showing the Sporcle homepage

Who they are : Sporcle is a trivia website with hundreds of different quizzes.

The test : The 25-question Sporcle proofreading test takes a different format from the others on this list. It will show you a sentence featuring an error, and underneath it, there are many possible corrections. You have to pick the right one.

Other resources : There are plenty of other Sporcle quizzes that are relevant for proofreaders, covering grammar, spelling, word definitions, and more.

Anything else I should know? Sporcle times how long it takes to complete their proofreading quiz. You have a maximum of 8 minutes to complete it.

10. Business Writing Blog

Screenshot showing the Business Writing Blog homepage

Who they are : Business Writing Blog publishes articles for writers working in a “professional, academic, and social setting,” according to their About Us page .

The test : This proofreading test features three emails that contain a number of errors (which you can correct on a printout or in a Word document). There’s an answer sheet for each test. The errors are highlighted and corrected.

Other resources : The Business Writing Blog site has an entire section dedicated to proofreading-related posts, plus more articles on useful topics like grammar and punctuation. They also offer a paid course on proofreading (for $159).

Anything else I should know?  As you’d expect, this test focuses on business English, but it’s still good for general proofreading practice. Note that some of the errors on their test have more than one possible fix.

11. Om Proofreading

Screenshot showing the Om Proofreading homepage

Who they are : Om Proofreading is a website run by Lindsay Babcock, a proofreader who offers services for new age and spiritual content.

The test : Om’s proofreading test is fairly short and easy, featuring 20 multiple-choice questions on homophones.

Other resources : As well as a proofreading test, the Om Proofreading site offers general advice for proofreaders and a quiz on adverbs .

Anything else I should know? The Om Proofreading test doesn’t cover grammar, punctuation, syntax, or other areas that are important for proofreaders to know about.

12. The New York Times

Screenshot showing the The New York Times proofreading test webpage

Who they are : In case you’ve been hiding under a rock, the New York Times is one of the most widely circulated and well-respected newspapers in the US.

The test : The New York Times test assesses your proofreading and fact-checking skills. You have to find 14 errors that have been inserted into extracts from five of the newspaper’s articles. You can then check the PDF under the test to see all of the correct answers.

Other resources : There are also many other quizzes on the website that test your copyediting skills. All of them are part of a series called Copy Edit This! Unfortunately, these tests aren’t collected on a single page on the NYT’s website, but you can find them easily by googling. You can view the first few for free, but eventually you’ll need a subscription.

Anything else I should know? The New York Times proofreading and fact-checking test focuses more on fact-checking than proofreading. Also, it’s from 2014, so some of the information is obsolete.

13. Other free grammar and writing tests

These tests don’t specifically cover proofreading, but they do cover topics that are useful for proofreaders to know about:

  • Portland Proof : This is a proofreading service that also hosts free tests on their website. Their quizzes feel more like games. You have to pick the erroneous word and then correct it, but your speed is tested along with how many right answers you get. The errors mostly involve spelling and homophones.
  • GrammarBook.com : You can find quizzes on all kinds of language skills here, including grammar, punctuation, and how to use numbers in writing.
  • Grammar Monster : This site also has lots of tests on grammar, punctuation, and other topics that proofreaders need to know about.
  • Grammar Lion : This site, where you can sign up for paid grammar courses, offers a 20-question test that asks about various grammar points rather than getting you to correct errors in a text.
  • CMOS Shop Talk : This is a blog about the Chicago Manual of Style. It has a page full of multiple-choice tests on using Chicago style, including one on how to proofread .

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Robert Jellison

Managing Editor

Robert is a writer and editor for SideHustles.com. He has 7+ years of experience in freelance writing and previously worked as the in-house editor for Compose.ly, a platform for remote and part-time writers.

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10 Free Proofreading Tests (To Boost Your Editing Skills)

How about testing your skills through a free proofreading test? Taking free proofreading quizzes will help you improve your editing capabilities rapidly. Can you take these tests without spending a dime? Yes! To make things easy for you, I’ve compiled tests that will help you grasp English grammar rules and common language errors. Are you ready to become a successful proofreader? Let’s do this!

The 10 Best Free Proofreading Tests Online:

1. earn smart online class.

Earn Smart Online Class is an excellent platform for new proofreaders as it offers more than just proofreading tests. The website contains several tips for improving your proofreading skills. Although the proofreading test is short with a few multiple-choice questions, it tests your capability by asking questions where most proofreaders make mistakes. Thus, you can easily test your proofreading skills through this test. The good thing about this website is that besides offering an online test, it also provides a downloadable PDF. Thus, you can choose to take the test at your convenience. It also has an answer key to make sure you check your answers as well!

2. Freelance Writing

As the name suggests, Freelance Writing is a platform dedicated solely to writers. So, if you’re a proofreader, you can get much more from this website. I like this test and would suggest you take it as well because it’s different from many others. It specifically checks your professionalism on the job. The test isn’t composed of multiple-choice questions but of one paragraph with only a few grammatical errors. This test trains you to check documents written by professional writers as well. You’ll also find the solution at the end, which explicitly explains how it works to help improve your proofreading skills.

3. Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading (CIEP)

The proofreading test by the Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading (CIEP) is perhaps the best choice for people who want to test their copy-editing skills through a credible source. Unlike many other tests, it contains several multiple-choice questions. The questions also focus on a broad spectrum wherein you’ll have to highlight grammar mistakes, punctuation errors, language use, etc. The website has 14 quizzes, and you can download the PDF version of the test. You’ll also have to download the answer key, which is right next to the quiz. The best thing I like about this free proofreading test is that it focuses not only on grammar and spelling mistakes. Instead, you’ll learn a lot more to help you become a professional freelance proofreader.

4. Using English for Academic Purposes (UEfAP)

Using English for Academic Purposes (UEfAP) is a credible source with many tips and resources to help you improve your skills in checking copies for errors. It has several quizzes to test your proofreading skills, which you can take after learning the pointers taught by the site. It enables you to assess whether your proofreading skills have improved. Another good thing about this website is that it has a wide assortment of quizzes, including punctuation, parts of speech, spelling, word order, etc. By taking these quizzes, you can have a better grip on various parts of the English language, which will help you a lot in your proofreading career.

5. Grammar Book

Grammar Book is another excellent website for writers and proofreaders because it contains a lot of tips and information to help boost your skills. You can find almost everything about English on this website. So, if you want to learn about proofreading and writing, as well as expanding your vocabulary , it can be an amazing resource. Apart from that, the website has 52 free quizzes and 4 free tests. If you want to access more, you’ll have to subscribe. However, I believe attempting the quizzes and tests is enough to help you improve your English skills . The quizzes are also of different types to help you unlock a broad range of knowledge about proofreading.

6. Portland Proof

7. proofreadnow.com, 8. authoritypub, 9. love to know, 10. sporcle, rafal reyzer.

Hey there, welcome to my blog! I'm a full-time entrepreneur building two companies, a digital marketer, and a content creator with 10+ years of experience. I started RafalReyzer.com to provide you with great tools and strategies you can use to become a proficient digital marketer and achieve freedom through online creativity. My site is a one-stop shop for digital marketers, and content enthusiasts who want to be independent, earn more money, and create beautiful things. Explore my journey here , and don't miss out on my AI Marketing Mastery online course.

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Writing contests, make money writing, hottest topics, test your proofreading skills: complete this exercise.

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Many proofreading exercises make the mistake of confronting the trainee proof reader with errors in abundance. Every other line contains a spelling error, grammatical gaffe, or stylistic slip-up. In reality, however, you’re unlikely to find more than two or three errors in any document, particularly if said document has been produced by professional page make-up artists or seasoned typesetters. These overloaded proofreading exercises give the nascent proof reader a false expectation when they launch their careers; when they don’t find themselves pinpointing ten to twenty errors per page, they think they must have missed something and self-doubt begins to set in.

So, the following piece of copy contains just three errors. As with any proofreading exercise, you may find the occasional grammatically suspect clause or a phrase that makes you a little queasy. However, it’s important to remember that your job as a proof reader is to find literal errors and eradicate any lack of clarity, not to indulge in hair-splitting over the occasional split infinitive or dangling modifier.

Allow yourself no more than 10 minutes to complete this exercise.

The Proofreading Exercise

Keep your pet safe from the dangers of heatstroke.

It is now, thankfully, a widely recognised fact that dogs left alone in cars can become the tragic victim of the kind of weather that normally has most of us rejoicing. According to recent evidence, when the external temperature is 72 degrees Fahrenheit, the temperature within a car can rise to as much as 117 degrees Fahrenheit in just one hour. For this reason, all responsible dog owners plan ahead, to make sure wherever there going provides adequate provisions for their beloved pet.

However, the emphasis on the dangers presented by leaving dogs in cars has lulled many pet owners into a false sense of security when it comes to protecting their pet from the hazards of hot weather. There is now, unfortunately, a general consensus that our pets are safe in hot weather, just so long as they are not confined to a vehicle.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Whether or not your dog is in a car, they are vulnerable to heatstroke if they are unable to effectively cool down. Some dogs are more prone than others. For example,

• dogs with long hair, • thick-set and heavily muscled dogs • very young dogs • very old dogs.

Dogs who are suffering from a particular medical complaint or are receiving prescription medication may also be more at risk. However, it is a fact that all dogs can be potential victims of heatstroke. Luckily, there are a number of very simple things you can do to reduce the risk to you’re pet. Avoid taking your dog out in hot weather at all, if you can. Restrict their exercise time to the early morning or later in the evening, when it tends to be cooler.

If you do have to take your dog out in the heat, and you find you have to leave them in a single spot for any reason, make sure there is plenty of shade, and leave a large bowl of drinking water. Make sure the bowl has a heavy base, so that it is less likely to be accidentally spilled or knocked over entirely.

When out walking with your dog in hot weather, carry a large bottle of water with you. Periodically, you can give this water to your dog. Little and often is the key here, keeping dehydration well and truly at bay. Make sure your dog is well-groomed to remove surplus hair. You wouldn’t go out in the heat wearing an overcoat, would you?

If, for whatever reason, your dog has become exposed to excessive heat and you are concerned they may be suffering from heatstroke, here are the symptoms you need to be on the lookout for: abnormally heavy panting, excessive salivation, vividly red gums and tongue and, in very severe cases, diarrhoea and vomiting. If you encounter any of these symptoms you need to seek veterinary assistance immediately, whilst cooling your pet as much as possible with cool water (never use very cold water, as this may induce shock). But, as always, prevention is better then cure. Keep your pet out of the heat wherever possible.

The Proofreading Exercise: Solution

Did you spot out three howlers?

That’s right, the first mistake was in the opening paragraph. The sentence that reads, ‘For this reason, all responsible dog owners plan ahead, to make sure wherever there going provides adequate provisions for their beloved pet’, should read, ‘For this reason, all responsible dog owners plan ahead, to make sure wherever they’re going provides adequate provisions for their beloved pet’.

The second mistake is tucked away in the seventh paragraph. ‘Luckily, there are a number of very simple things you can do to reduce the risk to you’re pet’ should read ‘Luckily, there are a number of very simple things you can do to reduce the risk to your pet’.

And I’ve deliberately concealed the third error in the final paragraph. Were you beginning to think you’d missed it? ‘But, as always, prevention is better then cure. Keep your pet out of the heat wherever possible’ should, of course, read, ‘But, as always, prevention is better than  cure. Keep your pet out of the heat wherever possible’. If you successfully completed this proofreading exercise, congratulations! You may have what it takes to become a proof reader.

About the Author: Mike Sellars has been embroiled in the world of proofreading for more than two decades now. For the first five years of his working life he worked as a copywriter and proof reader for a number of advertising and marketing agencies. After that he typeset and proofread for the UK’s largest online retailer. In relatively short order, he was promoted, culminating in his appointment as Operations Manager, in which role he was responsible for hiring, developing and managing typesetters, page make-up artists and, of course, proof readers. He has distilled all this experience down into The No-Nonsense Proofreading Course . Available for just £7.99. Click here to find out more.

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Are You Ready To Test Your Proofreading Skills?

Even the most grammar-savvy amongst us benefit from a thorough proofreading of our work.

You may rely on an editor to check your work, or like many writers, it might be tempting to do a quick scan of your writing without thoroughly proofreading it.

But proofreading is as essential to your writing as writing is. It allows you to fix any errors that may obscure your intended meaning or distract your reader. It also helps you catch grammar and spelling mistakes , misused words, and punctuation errors.

If you have an editor, he or she can polish your work much more easily (and less expensively) if you’ve given it the careful once-over before the editing process.

If you don’t have an editor, proofreading can save you from embarrassing and critical comments from your readers.

Proofreading makes you a better, more mindful writer and, over time, it will cement the skills you need to be an accomplished writer.

Proofreading Test

Review this letter for mistakes:, corrected letter.

Here’s a checklist of actions you should take to properly proofread your writing:

  • Remove any distractions so you can concentrate on proofing your work.
  • Look for one type of writing problem at a time (first spelling errors, then word usage, etc.).
  • Read your writing out loud and silently.
  • Print a copy of your work to proofread it on paper.
  • Read it backward to spot any spelling mistakes .
  • Look out for homonyms (words that share the same spelling and pronunciation).
  • Double check contractions and apostrophes for common mistakes (like it’s and its or there and their).
  • Review carefully for punctuation mistakes. Look up anything you aren’t sure about.
  • Ask a friend to read your writing after you proofread it to check behind you.

So, why not spend a few minutes assessing your own proofreading skills with an easy and entertaining test?

woman on Mac computer at desk Proofreading test

To make this proofreading test more challenging, I’ve thrown in a variety of hurdles for you to spot and clear as you make your way to the finish line.

May you find the following proofreader and copy editor test as helpful and enjoyable as it was excruciating to write. Don’t let my agony be in vain.

Dear Ms. Adams;

We’ve recieved your manuscript and have read enough of it to offer this constructive critique, which we hope you’ll take unto consideration before sending us another sample of your work, we do value you’re time.

1. The beginning of your story is week. Try to evoke an emotional response within the first few paragraphs.

2. You use to many semicolons. Its distracting.

3. You use third person omiscient POV, which in our humble opinion, weakens the impact of your main characters painful situation.

4. You tell more then show what your characters are feeling. As Anton Checkov wrote: “Dont tell me the moon is shining, show me hte glint of light on broken glass.”

5. You switch points of view, jumping from one persons head to another without warning, it’s confusing and you risk loosing your reader’s trust end attention

6. The dialogue feels forced and unathentic: the southern accent is overdone and painful too read.

7. Your use of ellipsis is… awkward. And you use them quite alot. Consider removing most of them. Noone pauses that much..

8. You’re love of dashes is evident. Please eliminate most of them, and and make your sentences shorter clearer, and less wordy.

9. Please please please stop using dialog tags like “he grinned” or “she sighed”. You can’t sigh or grin words. It can’t be done. Stick with “said” but try to make it more obvious who is saying whom without using dialog tags for every quote. If you must indicate sighs, grins, and other nonverbal gestures set them apart from teh quotes with periods rather than commas .

10. Your main character launches into a stream of conscience monologue and his dialoge partner somehow doesn’t lapse into a coma before he finishes this is wishful thinking and makes it hard to sympathize with the mane character who’s soliloquy is way too long to keep you’re readers attention. We tired but had to skip to the end wear he finally sums it up nicely.

11. We dont really get to now your secondary character well enough to care about what happens to her. She listens to the main character and throws in a few responses hear and their but is otherwise bland and two dimensional. Her boyfriend the main character, does most of the talking, and she stairs out the window a lot and I mean a LOT. Yet we never find out weather she’s waiting for someone or something or if shes just really board. She’s certainly stiff as a board (see what i did they’re?).

12. My fellow editers here at Proper Publishing House agree with all the statements in this letter which I spent ours perfecting ought of sincere gratitude for your efforts and true dat concern for yore development as a writer.

13. We recommend you contact the services of a inexperienced proofreader or copyediter before submitting to us any future writing samples. Good proofreading makes such a deference!

In short let us offer you hour best hopes for the improvement of your writing don’t be discouraged keep at it and remember Proper Publishing House will always bee honest with you because

Sincerely and optimystically

Sarah jane Smythe

Cheif Editer

Now, it’s time to compare your corrections with the letter below. Keep in mind that not all your copyediting corrections have to look exactly like mine. There’s room for some creative improvisation. I’ve highlighted the errors and everything added or crossed out.

Dear Ms. Adams :

We’ve received your manuscript and have read enough of it to offer this constructive critique, which we hope you’ll take into consideration before sending us another sample of your work . We do value your time.

1. The beginning of your story is weak . Try to evoke an emotional response within the first few paragraphs.

2. You use too many semicolons. It’s distracting.

3. You use third person omniscient POV, which , in our humble opinion, weakens the impact of your main character’s painful situation.

4. You tell more than show what your characters are feeling. As Anton Chekhov wrote , “ Don’t tell me the moon is shining ; show me the glint of light on broken glass.”

5. You switch points of view, jumping from one person’s head to another without warning. It’s confusing, and you risk losing your reader’s trust and attention.

6. The dialogue feels forced and inauthentic ; the Southern accent is overdone and painful to read.

7. Your use of ellipses is… awkward. And you use them quite a lot . Consider removing most of them. No one pauses that much.

8. Your love of dashes is evident. Please eliminate most of them, and and make your sentences shorter, clearer, and less wordy.

9. Please , please , please stop using dialogue tags like “he grinned” or “she sighed .” You can’t sigh or grin words. It can’t be done. Stick with “said , “ but try to make it more obvious who is saying what without using dialogue tags for every quote. If you must indicate sighs, grins, and other nonverbal gestures, set them apart from the quotes with periods rather than commas.

10. Your main character launches into a stream of consciousness monologue, and his dialogue partner somehow doesn’t lapse into a coma before he finishes . This is wishful thinking and makes it hard to sympathize with the main character , whose soliloquy is way too long to keep your reader’s attention. We tried but had to skip to the end where he finally sums it up nicely.

11. We don’t really get to know your secondary character well enough to care about what happens to her. She listens to the main character and throws in a few responses here and there but is otherwise bland and two-dimensional . Her boyfriend , the main character, does most of the talking, and she stares out the window a lot — and I mean a LOT. Yet we never find out whether she’s waiting for someone or something or if she’s just really bored. She’s certainly stiff as a board (see what i did they’re?).

12. My fellow editors here at Proper Publishing House agree with all the statements in this letter , which I spent hours perfecting out of sincere gratitude for your efforts and true dat concern for your development as a writer.

13. We recommend you contract the services of an experienced proofreader or copyeditor before submitting to us any future writing samples. Good proofreading makes such a difference !

In conclusion , let us offer you our best hopes for the improvement of your writing . Don’t be discouraged , keep at it , and remember Proper Publishing House will always be honest with you . because

Sincerely and optimistically ,

Sarah Jane Smythe

Chief Editor

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Recovery Time

Maybe it’s time for a soothing cup of something. No hard feelings, I hope.

If you found value in this proofreading practice test, please share it with others. The purpose of this article, after all, is to help you and your fellow writers more accurately proofread your own work before submitting or publishing it.

It doesn’t hurt that while it was often painful not to proofread the sample letter while writing it, it was also pretty fun. I hope you enjoyed the exercise enough to pass it on.

And may your good humor and selfless commitment to the edification of your fellow writers infuse everything else you do today.

As a writer, you want to make sure you put your best foot forward with your work. Take this proofreading test to measure your copyediting skills.

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proofreading skills test

9 top proofreading skills: What employers look for, and how to assess proofreaders

9 Most Important Proofreading Skills featured image

Proofreading is more than just giving a piece of writing a quick check-over for misplaced apostrophes. Professional proofreaders ensure content is appropriate and easy to understand, needing a thorough eye for detail and understanding of the English language.

But that’s not all – talented proofreaders are also objective, motivated, and great team players . Without these skills, technical talent only goes so far, and you can’t measure these effectively with experience checks alone.

Employers can , however, measure proofreading skills reliably with talent assessments .

Below, we explore nine proofreader skills all applicants should develop and that recruiters should prioritize when building a proofreader test.

Table of contents

9 fundamental proofreader skills employers look for, how to assess editing and proofreading skills, the 9 key skills for proofreading and how to test for them, proofreading skills: more than just an eye for detail, skills of a proofreader: faqs.

We recommend the following skills for proofreading success:

Linguistic knowledge

Attention to detail

Critical thinking

Motivation and self-discipline


Time management

Technical knowledge and adaptability

Sticking to a style guide

If you’re hiring for these skills, skip ahead to the next section and find out what to include in your proofreader test.

In the meantime, let’s break down these skills and why they’re so valuable.

1. Linguistic knowledge

Since proofreaders work intensively with words and punctuation, they need strong reading and writing skills that go beyond finding simple common mistakes. They must be able to quickly recognize misspellings and grammatical errors in written content and then fix and explain those mistakes.

In an age where some companies use artificial intelligence (AI) for revising written work, studies show that skilled human proofreaders are still much more effective at grammatical accuracy and content planning.

Strong language and content skills help successful proofreaders improve copy so it’s easy to read, adheres to brand style guides, and presents a professional face.

These are important for businesses because customers see bad grammar and spelling as unprofessional and untrustworthy. Studies show that online advertisements with mistakes and typos lose up to 70% of their potential customers.

2. Attention to detail

To keep the text error-free, proofreaders must read each line of copy slowly and carefully.

Industry experts claim proofreaders likely need to process around 3,000 words per hour , although this can vary depending on the project. 

However, it’s not work you should rush. As Rosemary Shipton writes in her essay “The Mysterious Relationship: Authors and Their Editors,” editing professionals are expected to account for around 95% of all errors in the text.

A proofreader with a strong eye for detail might notice a document uses Oxford commas when a style guide advises against them, has hyphens in place of em dashes, or interchangeably switches between first-person to second-person narrative.

Attention to detail is a skill that proofreaders improve through efficiently organizing their schedules, minimizing distractions, and creating technical checklists.

3. Critical thinking

Critical thinking in proofreading is all about making unbiased decisions that obey style guides.

For example, sometimes, more than one way of phrasing an idea is technically correct, though very few of them fit the writing brief.

Therefore, proofreaders with strong critical thinking skills decide which sentences and phrases make the most sense in any given context.

Thinking critically when proofreading also means being decisive with the words used. If there's a more concise way to get a message across, the best proofreaders know what to remove.

Proofreaders develop this skill by asking insightful questions of their clients and reflecting on their thought processes.

4. Motivation and self-discipline

Becoming a proofreader means being a self-starter and often working independently when reviewing text. A proofreader needs to be motivated to stay on task and complete projects. 

Since they’re often the last line of defense against mistakes , proofreaders might not always have someone else to turn to for answers. Therefore, they have to be independent thinkers.

Freelance proofreaders have even more independence. They don't have supervisors present and often work on several projects through their proofreading services simultaneously. 

Self-disciplined proofreaders give each piece of work the same attention and effort, meaning its quality is consistently high.

5. Communication

Whether proofreaders work alone or within a team, they need to communicate effectively with writers, clients, and colleagues. 

Communication skills keep documents moving efficiently through the editorial process. Proofreaders often work on various teams or multiple projects, too, so they have to be able to communicate in ways best suited for the person they’re talking to.

Proofreaders can develop communication skills by listening actively to requests and even applying their proofreading logic to their own communication channels.

6. Time management

Written material usually reaches proofreaders just before it’s published online or goes into design. That means there’s usually pressure on them to turn around text quickly, and some professionals juggle multiple projects.

Proofreaders have to prioritize their work to meet deadlines. They usually manage their time themselves, especially if they work remotely, and must find ways to stay focused.

Healthy time management skills ensure proofreaders are more productive and precise because they're well-rested and motivated to do their best .

7. Technical knowledge and adaptability

The best proofreaders are highly flexible and confident when using various tools to check text and make comments. Much like how accountants use calculators, proofreaders must use tools like spell-checkers wisely and to their maximum potential.

Mainly, good proofreaders need word processor skills that can carry over across different programs such as Microsoft Word or Google Docs. 

They also work with PDF files and markup software to make comments and changes to text already in the design process.

It’s also useful if proofreaders are familiar with collaboration and meeting tools, such as Zoom and Slack, so they can connect with the editorial team.

8. Sticking to a style guide

Every proofreading project should have a style guide that covers elements such as international vocabulary, tone of voice, branding elements, and formatting.

Proofreaders must be flexible and work within the guidelines set for each project . That means being willing to adapt their knowledge and skills to fit a brand's needs.

In marketing and journalism, for example, many projects require writers and proofreaders to use the concise and direct Associated Press stylebook, but other projects may require following the Chicago Manual of Style.

Attitude is just as important as skill here, meaning proofreaders must willingly respect the guidelines set for them.

9. Research

Although much of the work proofreaders do takes place on-page, they need to be ready to find different resources beyond the writing process.

For instance, a proofreader editing social media marketing for the first time could benefit from researching the etiquette required for this type of writing. There’s always room to develop.

Proofreaders must be ready to balance physical editing with research and referencing. It's an ideal role for people who are highly skilled with words but who are always willing to learn.

There are plenty of people out there looking for proofreading jobs. It’s one of the six most-searched-for marketing roles online:

proofreading skills test

However, you need to cut through the pack to find talented individuals with proven proofreading and editing skills. 

When recruiting for a proofreader, let applicants show you what they can do rather than tell you through resumes .

Take the example of Contentoo, a content marketing firm that regularly hires online proofreaders. Since moving to TestGorilla, the company has confirmed that its hiring process is more motivational for candidates. Now, applicants feel more pushed to "achieve something" and move ahead.

Skills-based hiring is objective, reliable, and efficient. By testing proofreader candidates with specialized assessments, you learn more about how they attack problems.

Let's look at how you can assess proofreading and editing skills during recruitment and how TestGorilla's assessment library can help.

It's wise to test candidates' mastery of the specific languages you need them to work with. You could use our English (proficient/C1) test for proofreading in English, for instance. 

This proofreading assessment tests applicants’ grammar knowledge, writing competence, and vocabulary scope:

An example question from TestGorilla's English (proficient/C1) test

If you work in more languages, feel free to book a 30-minute demo with TestGorilla and explore our library further.

Attention to detail is reasonably easy to measure by asking applicants to complete trial exercises.

Beyond this, we recommend running the Attention to Detail test . You can use this proofreading assessment test to measure an applicant’s ability to double-check for the consistency of information, compare two versions of a text, and filter information:

An example question from TestGorilla's Attention to Detail test

Again, you could test a candidate’s ability to think and proofread objectively with a trial article or run proofreading tests.

The Critical Thinking test accurately measures how well proofreaders can resolve problems they encounter. 

This test evaluates how well a candidate can analyze data, make decisions independently, and think critically when expected to make arguments:

An example question from TestGorilla's Critical Thinking test

It’s a generic talent assessment that helps you find candidates with the ability to complete tasks independently and resolve job challenges effectively. 

TestGorilla’s Motivation test is another generic assessment that grades people on their ability to self-start and manage their own workloads. It also measures how well a candidate aligns with your job profile.

This test is highly customizable, meaning you can adjust it to fit the profile of a proofreader and find talented people who are enthusiastic to work with you. You can learn more about this in our product tour .

Hire the best proofreaders with TestGorilla

Ready to hire the best proofreaders with TestGorilla’s talent assessments?

proofreading skills test

The Communication skills test evaluates how well applicants interpret written communication and how effectively they can summarize their ideas and recommend the next steps. 

This test also evaluates professional etiquette, so you can be sure your proofreader communicates requests for edits kindly:

An example question from TestGorilla's Communication test

In addition, the test measures a candidate’s ability to understand non-verbal cues and listen actively. These are important traits for any proofreader attending online meetings.

Testing proofreaders on time management is important because you can’t afford to wait forever for clean copy.

We recommend offering a trial project, setting a clear deadline, and checking to see which candidates are the most punctual.

Then, ask your candidates insightful questions regarding how they approach projects and tasks. The easiest way to get started is with our Time Management test .

This test measures how well applicants can plan, prioritize, and finish tasks on time. This test also measures communication, reflection, and execution.

An example question from TestGorilla's Time Management test

Proofreaders need to use advanced features on current versions of the tech you use to create and distribute content. That means testing their knowledge of word processors, content management systems, and editing tools.

When hiring remote proofreaders, consider prioritizing applicants skilled in Microsoft Word and Google Docs, two of the most commonly used word-processing tools to create and collaborate on content.

Our Microsoft Word test measures whether proofreaders can make comments, track changes, fix formatting issues, add page numbers, and create headers and titles.

To explore a sample test, click here and get a preview of the type of Word-related questions you’d be asking candidates to answer.

Style guides and research

You can use several TestGorilla assessments to measure how skilled proofreaders are at understanding and following detailed style guides or instructions and how they read and use the information they find during research.

For instance, the Reading Comprehension test measures how effectively a candidate understands written instructions and content.

 An example question from TestGorilla's Reading Comprehension test

This is important if you have a highly specific style guide and want to determine whether an applicant follows instructions by directing them to only proofread a portion of text, for example.

Meanwhile, our Verbal Reasoning test helps to measure how well candidates draw conclusions from written material, find analogies, and understand written information in-depth.

Let’s quickly summarize the skills required for proofreading and how recruiters can measure them .

Linguistic knowledge

English (proficient/C1) test and further language variants

Attention to detail

Attention to Detail test

Critical thinking

Critical Thinking test

Motivation and self-discipline

Motivation test


Communication and Communication (Intermediate) tests

Time management

Time Management test

Technical knowledge and adaptability

Specialized tests such as Adobe Illustrator and Microsoft Word

Sticking to a style guide

Reading Comprehension and Verbal Reasoning tests


Reading Comprehension and Verbal Reasoning tests

As you can see, hiring a proofreader isn't just a case of choosing someone good with words. You also need someone with excellent time management, critical thinking, communication, and attention to detail.

Like Contentoo, you can use TestGorilla skill assessments to make better-informed and more incisive proofreader hiring decisions . Take a product tour and see our testing platform and proofreading tests in action.

Want a bit more detail? Be sure to sign up for a free demo for the complete lowdown.

And now you know how to assess proofreading skills, we suggest you register for a free forever plan and start grading applicants – with no strings attached.

Let’s close with some common questions about skills for proofreading and why they’re important.

What skills do you need to proofread?

We recommend the following skills required for proofreading:

Expert knowledge of linguistics

Self-motivation and discipline

Strong interpersonal communication

Technical adaptability

Knowledge of different editing styles and guidelines, such as AP and MLA

Scroll up to the "9 fundamental proofreader skills" heading to learn more about these skills and why they’re important.

What is a proofreading assessment test?

A proofreading assessment test evaluates job applicants' ability to follow style guides and identify and fix grammatical mistakes. It can also determine if an applicant knows proofreading conventions and common software programs used on the job. An editing and proofreading skills assessment should also evaluate your ability to communicate effectively, collaborate with others, and take direction.

What makes a great proofreader?

A great proofreader has solid grammar, formatting, spelling, and punctuation knowledge in their chosen language. They're also reliable self-starters who manage their own projects and deadlines and make critical, unbiased decisions in accordance with style guides. A great proofreader is confident working independently and with others, and is an open communicator with people at all levels of their team. 

What are the three main focuses of proofreading?

The three main focuses of proofreading are to address and remove grammar and punctuation errors, improve word choice, and ensure writing is correctly formatted to a brief or style guide. However, this is a job with a lot of nuances that vary from project to project, meaning that what’s a priority for one client’s style guide might not be for another’s.

What is the difference between proofreading and editing skills?

Proofreading focuses on fixing technical errors in writing, such as spelling, grammar, and punctuation mistakes. Editing, meanwhile, focuses on how readable a piece of writing is and if it flows well. Proofreading is usually the last stage of writing checks, taking place after copyediting and before you submit a draft. 

We have more information on how to hire an editor in our guide.

What are examples of proofreader skills?

Software management

Critical decision making


Project management

Other responsibilities, such as fact-checking and narrative flow, typically fall to copy editors, who read and check copy before proofreading skills come into play.

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Proofreading Assessment

Our Proofreading Test is a literacy assessment designed to test an individual’s ability to recognise spelling and grammatical errors in a sample piece of text. This is a skill that is often overlooked but essential in any work environment. Candidates are required to type corrections for the errors identified in the Core and Professional test levels. 

By using our proofreading test, employers have a valuable insight into the levels of literacy of their candidates, ensuring that they will hire the candidate best suited to the role. The test is crucial for anyone looking to recruit for work that requires proofreading online, copywriting, typists, copy editors, publishers and more.

What is the proofreading test?

Our test is designed to test an individual’s ability to proofread – their skill in recognising spelling and grammar errors from a sample of text. Here’s how the test works:

Candidates are shown a sample of text selected by the administrator and asked to find the incorrect word. At Fundamental level, candidates are only required to proofread, and are free to highlight the spelling and grammar errors in the question. At the Core and Professional levels, candidates are also tested on editing, and are required to type corrections for the words identified.

Candidates are presented with 1 question to answer within 15 minutes, and are free to check the grammar in a sample text, pointing out incorrect words. The candidate’s responses to the exercise are automatically marked and timed. The average completion time for the question is 12 minutes. There are 4 different subjects available, and candidates will be presented with the option of doing a practice test to familiarise themselves with the exercise and work on their skills. A point is awarded for each correct highlight and an additional point is available for corrected words in the Core and Professional levels. In all levels, incorrect selections will result in a minus point being subtracted from the total score, and missed errors will result in no point being awarded.

  • Practice test available
  • 4 subjects available
  • 15 minutes available
  • 12 minutes average completion time
  • 1 question presented
  • 16 questions in pool

Who is this test aimed at?

The proofreading test is useful for employers looking to ensure that they hire candidates with good skills in writing, editing, grammar, copywriting, and verbal expression. These skills are imperative for typists, copy editors, proofreaders, and publishers. The ability to proofread and to express oneself coherently in writing are essential in any job which requires a good degree of literacy, so the proofreading test is an invaluable tool for employers.

While candidates applying for some job roles will be expected to be more experienced in proofreading than others, generally speaking, many industries will benefit from the skills tested by our assessment. In order to gage candidates’ proficiency in proofreading, and their relative suitability to the demands of their job, our test is designed to distinguish between different levels of skill. Our proofreading test determines 3 levels of literacy and grammar: Fundamental , Core , and Professional .

Skills Assessed

Candidates have 15 minutes to answer 25 questions. Each question covers essential practical and theoretical knowledge.

In this proofreading test, candidates are required to only proofread a sample text and highlight the errors within. No justification for the grammar mistakes is required. There are 30 errors contained within the text for candidates to identify and highlight, which they must do within a set amount of time.

A candidate taking the Fundamental level of a test is expected to have subject knowledge aligned to a foundation level GCSE graduate.

In this proofreading test, candidates are required to proofread a text and highlight mistakes, as well as writing corrections to spelling and grammatical errors in the text provided. In this test, there are 40 errors contained within the text and candidates are free to identify, highlight and correct them.

A candidate taking the Core level of a test is expected to have subject knowledge aligned to a higher level GCSE graduate.

In this proofreading test, candidates are required to proofread a text and provide corrections to spelling and grammatical errors in the text provided. This test builds on Core by increasing the quantity of text provided for checking, the speed in which a candidate has to identify errors and the complexity of the vocabulary used. 50 errors are contained within the text for candidates to proofread, highlight and correct.

Why use a Proofreading Test?

The ability to proofread is a good marker of a candidate’s knowledge of grammar, their strength in writing, their skill in editing and can even indicate their ability to communicate clearly with others.

17 Essential Proofreading Skills and How to Improve Them

Photo of author

| Candace Osmond

Photo of author

Candace Osmond

Candace Osmond studied Advanced Writing & Editing Essentials at MHC. She’s been an International and USA TODAY Bestselling Author for over a decade. And she’s worked as an Editor for several mid-sized publications. Candace has a keen eye for content editing and a high degree of expertise in Fiction.

Proofreading is the process of reading a piece of text and carefully checking for errors. This process usually occurs before submitting, presenting, or publishing the document. 

No matter what your profession is, proofreading is critical to every profession because everybody writes. I’ll show you 17 essential proofreading skills and how you can enhance them. 

How You Can Proofread Effectively

The act of proofreading occurs after editing. Proofreaders focus on surface-level errors like grammatical errors, misspellings, and formatting issues. One way to proofread effectively is by reading the paper aloud to check how it sounds on paper.

Double-check the following writing features:

  • Verb tenses.
  • Preposition use.
  • Proper names.
  • Punctuation.
  • Page numbers.
  • Header and footer.

Another proofreading technique you can try is reading backward. The brain sometimes has an auto-correct function that doesn’t let you see errors, especially misspellings. It also helps to proofread only one kind of error at a time.

If you want to be a quicker proofreader, try evaluating the texts you work with. Make a list of errors commonly made by the writer, then prioritize them while performing your task.

Make sure you have your resources close to you if you’re unsure of any error. A dictionary will help you find a term’s correct spelling and meaning. Other helpful tools include a thesaurus, style guide, and punctuation book and orther proofreading books .

17 Crucial Skills You Need to Be a Proofreader

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Let’s explore these 17 skills you need before becoming a proofreader . 

Know When to Ask for Help

You can be at the top of your game and have access to all the best tools, but sometimes, the best tool in your arsenal is a second set of eyes. When you’ve run through your checklist, used Grammarly, and proofed it yourself, fire it over to a friend or colleague and have them check it over. Sometimes, a fresh look can spot something you missed. 

Easily Find and Correct Issues with Capitalization 

Aside from getting a grasp of language, it would help if you also made it a goal to correct a wide range of capitalization errors. It’s one of the few writing skills we tend to overlook because capitalization doesn’t completely change a sentence’s meaning.

However, proper capitalization is integral in providing precise information. It also indicates professional and accurate writing. 

Language experts agree that capitalization is essential to communicate particular terms to readers. For instance, we should always capitalize proper nouns to indicate their specificity.

Another rule is always to capitalize the first letter of a sentence’s first word. Doing so indicates the start of a new statement, idea, or thought. 

Proofreaders focus on every word when fixing capitalization errors. Make sure to perform this technique when offering proofreading services.

A Grasp on Spelling and Punctuation

Correcting punctuation mistakes on a document is also part of the proofreading process. Proper punctuation is one of the basic skills that everyone should learn in high school. It helps you relay your message to your reader through stops, pauses, questions, etc.

proofreading skills test

But some punctuation rules can be complicated even after taking English classes. Some rules depend on the style guide you’re using, such as the use of the Oxford Comma. 

Expert editors should know whether they should use parentheses or em dashes to separate additional information. Understanding the difference between a hyphen, en dash, and em dash is also part of excellent proofreading skills. 

A skilled proofreader knows how to find spelling errors in a piece of writing quickly. They know online editing tools and spell checkers are insufficient to spot these errors. Only an excellent human proofreader or editor can spot contextual misspellings.

Network with Others in Your Community 

As proofreaders, editors, and writers, we tend to be the solitary type. But finding and building a community of others in your field can aid you in your business. Swap notes, gain leads, learn tips you never knew before, and have a support system. 

Use Software as Aids, Not a Means

There’s no avoiding the rise of tech and writing software. The trick is knowing how to work WITH it to make your job easier. Tools like Grammarly Premium and ProWritingAid are geared toward writers, but they can service as one of many lines of defense for proofreaders. 

Be a Master of Your Computer Skills

Aside from linguistic skills, a proofreader should also know how to use digital tools to make editing easier. Proofreaders must know how to use spelling, grammar, and style checkers to look for linguistic errors in a piece of writing.

Some common mistakes they can spot on online documents include misspellings, grammar errors, and style mistakes. Grammarly and ProWritingAid are two special software programs you can try. 

Grammarly uses artificial intelligence to check more than just spelling and grammar. It also detects the tone and style of the message. This online writing assistant also suggests sentence rewrites for lengthy sentences. 

The only downside to these AI writers and editors is their inability to spot contextual errors. They also can’t fully make suggestions based on the editorial style preferences of your clients.

Knowledge of PDF markup tools is also one of the industry-specific proofreading skills you need. Some software programs you might use include Adobe Acrobat Reader, Nitro Reader, and PDFelement Pro. 


Grammarist Article Graphic V2 2022 08 05T144803.326

Being a successful proofreader is more than just having a solid command of language. A certain degree of focus is essential to make the writing process more time-saving.

Don’t let an email or SMS notification instantly take away your concentration on the texts you’re proofreading. Being constantly distracted will make you unable to spot acute errors. You won’t be able to finish your work on time, and your future employer will not appreciate it. 

Stay focused for a long time, but don’t forget to take frequent breaks. Try the Pomodoro Technique so as not to prolong your break time. This system includes 25 minutes of working and then a 5-minute break. 

Know Your Plate Size

As creatives, it’s easy to get carried away, especially when we work for ourselves. I know I’m guilty of loading up my plate with more work than I can handle. 

If you’re self-employed, you never want to say no to a potential new client or the promise of extra work. But it can actually do more harm than good. KNowing when to say no is an essential skill for proofreaders if you ask me. 

Having a manageable workload gives you the space to focus and do a better job instead of rushing and possibly missing things. 

It’s All in the Details

Proofreaders have ninja-like skills that allow them to finish their jobs on time. They know how to spot misspellings and grammatical errors with just one look at the paper. One of the essential steps to finding them is reading line by line. 

If you have enough industry experience, you should make corrections one at a time. For instance, you read the paper line by line for incorrect spelling. Then, you give it another read for punctuation mistakes, and so on. It’s one of the most essential steps to polishing the text.

Don’t entirely rely on online grammar checkers, as they sometimes make improper corrections. They also cannot make suggestions based on different editing styles. Knowing how to edit content for language errors will give your reader a desirable experience. 

Top-Notch Communication Skills

You can’t just accept a job or project, do the work, and hand it back. You need to communicate with employers and clients in a practical but respectful way. Figure out a way to deliver information and criticism in a way that seems constructive and professional. 

I can’t even guess how many people I’ve stopped working with over the years simply due to their poor communication skills. This is definitely a crucial skill to hone. 

Learn to Be Independent and Be Okay with It 

If you’re a social butterfly, I’m sorry to report…this line of work is pretty lonely. So, you should know how to work alone with an array of texts, including financial texts, novels, nonfiction, and legal writing.

It’s not enough that you have a good grammar game. Freelancers have greater professional independence, so they must know how to create schedules, set rates, and pay taxes independently. 

Always create SMART goals for your proofreading projects. This acronym stands for systematic, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. You must meet deadlines, set timelines, and communicate with your client.

Set additional goals for yourself and your proofreading career. Set a specific week to enroll in a proofreading course, so you can keep enhancing your skills. 

Have the Right Tools

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Every job is easier to manage when you have the right tools in front of you. Now, that doesn’t mean you need to run out and buy all the best software and fancy pens you can find. 

For example, the right tools for me are ones that help keep my thoughts and tasks organized. Notepads, spreadsheets, calendars, and checklists are at the top of my list for must-have tools for proofreaders.

Also, having access to editorial style manuals, including the ACS Style Guide, AP Stylebook, APA Style, and the ISO 690 are important. 

Marketing Skills Wouldn’t Hurt 

This one is two-fold. As a proofreader, your job isn’t marketing; that’s pretty evident. However, a good understanding of how marketing works can definitely help you do your job. How? Two ways:

Let’s say you have a client who needs you to proofread a series of emails for a marketing campaign. A general knowledge of what to look for would be good. 

The second way marketing comes into play here is for yourself. No one will know you exist if you don’t do some level of self-promotion. Learning how social media marketing works could mean the difference between a steady flow of work and a constant grind. 

Learn to Navigate Job Boards

This isn’t directly tied to your ability to do your job, but if you’re self-employed and are responsible for generating your own leads, studying the job boards can really help you out. 

Rather than waste time and effort on advertising or cold calling, take a look at what postings might be available on the slew of freelance job boards out there.

Not only that, but spend some time learning how they work, how to apply for jobs properly, and how to manage expectations. 

Manage Your Time Like a Pro

Let’s face it; working by yourself means you’re accountable for your own schedule. It also means there’s no one around to stop you from wasting time on social media. 

Create a daily and weekly schedule for yourself, stick to it, and you’ll have a winning formula to get the job done. 

Rest days are a critical element of work-life balance. Working all day can increase your stress and decrease your brain function. It will also make you less productive. 

Learn Simple Formatting

This won’t apply to all corners of the proofreading world, but if you ever happen to work with authors or publishing companies, you’ll need a basic understanding of formatting.

Where does a proofreader come into this? Checking to ensure pages are aligned, chapter headings are capitalized and error-free, page breaks are correctly placed, etc. 

Always Learning

Let’s face it, the world around us is constantly changing. Programs are always updating and improving, styles and standards are often changing to accommodate new words and techniques. 

It’s important for proofreaders of every kind to always be in a state of learning. Read articles in your niche, catch the latest publishing trends, and see what others are doing. Stay in the now, and you’ll never be left behind. 

Practice Your Proofreading Skills Now

Being an excellent proofreader is just not enough these days. The competition is thick, and you need to stand out by ensuring these skills are always practiced. Read, write, format, be diligent, and always be one step ahead. 

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Last updated on Nov 02, 2023

How to Become a Proofreader: the Ultimate Beginner's Guide

This article was written in collaboration with professional editors and proofreaders Allister Thompson , Aja Pollock , David Haviland , and Sally Apokedak . 

Proofreaders are keen-eyed professionals who specialize in going over texts to make sure no typos and grammatical mistakes are present before publication. Essentially, if you choose this career path, you'll be reading for a living, and you can do it from your own home, so what's not to like? 

If you’re interested in having a proofreading career, we’ve contacted some of our top professionals here at Reedsy to put together this comprehensive guide on how to become a proofreader in six steps:

1. Understand the proofreading job description

2. identify what proofreading services you want to offer, 3. take a proofreading course, 4. develop a strong command of style guides, 5. search for freelance proofreading jobs, 6. network and keep building your business portfolio.

Let's take a closer look.

How to Become a Proofreader | Example

What does a proofreader do? A proofreader does the final check of a piece of text to catch any remaining grammar and punctuation mistakes, spelling errors, or formatting issues before it reaches the eyes of the public. Their services come after developmental editing and copy editing , and make news articles, essays, books, website copy, or any other type of text error-free and ready for publication.

More specifically, proofreaders are often freelancers, and they carefully read documents from many types of clients (authors, publishers, businesses, and so on) to double-check for:

  • Typographical errors
  • Inconsistencies in style or layout
  • Awkward page and word breaks
  • Missing punctuation and spelling mistakes
  • Any other issues that might spoil the reading experience.

While some authors may be tempted to skip over proofreading to save time and money, proofreading is an integral part of making any text look spot-on and professional. “A proofreader is the ‘last line of defense’ between a book that looks professional and one that is obviously amateur and sloppy,” says Allister Thompson , a proofreader with over 25 years of experience. “So a proofreader actually has a lot of responsibility in the publishing process.”

Proofreaders vs copy editors

An important distinction to make is that between copy editors and proofreaders: as opposed to copy editors, proofreaders are not necessarily concerned with the quality of the sentence on a subjective level, but how well it adheres to grammar conventions and the logic of the text. That means that a proofreader will not go into a text and make suggestions for better ways to phrase things, so long as there are no objective spelling errors, missing punctuations, or formatting issues, for example. 

Below is a table that clarifies the different steps of the editorial process. This applies best to books — in article or copywriting you may have content editing followed directly by proofreading, for instance.

Revises ‘big picture’ aspects of the book like characters, plot, and themes. 

Polishes the book by the sentence, refining the style, tone, and grammar. 

Provides a safety net that catches any errors that the copy edit has let slip. 

Emphasizing the difference between copy editing and proofreading, Aja Pollock , a freelance editor for Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, Penguin Random House, and Macmillan, says that “probably the main piece of advice I'd give to new proofreaders is that proofreading is not copyediting. Your job as a proofreader, aside from catching outright errors, is to back up the copy editor and make sure the style they've established is applied consistently, as stated in the style sheet.” 

“If it’s clear and consistent,” she continues, “don’t change it without checking with whoever hired you.” Unauthorized and unnecessary corrections at the proofreading stage can set the whole production schedule back and cause further issues down the line, so “as a proofreader, you need to develop a sense of when to stay in your lane.”

🎓 What qualifications do you need to become a proofreader?

While you don’t necessarily need any specific formal qualifications to become a proofreader, you do need to demonstrate somehow that you have the skills for the job. Most proofreaders will hold bachelor’s degrees in fields like English or Journalism and, most importantly, must have a strong command of language and grammar. To that, Allister Thompson adds that a skilled proofreader must be able to focus for long periods of time: 

“A distracted proofreader is a bad one. The eye always wants to skip over text, especially when you're pressed for time. You can't do that.” 

David Haviland corroborates this statement:

“Proofreading is all about focus and attention to detail. Many of the issues that a proofreader identifies are ones that most educated people would spot, if they were paying attention. But maintaining this kind of focus on every line over the course of an entire manuscript, and then doing the same thing day after day, is an acquired skill.”

Further, you should be able to spot typographical or design errors, as you might be working with laid-out book files and not just text documents.

Having a university degree or special qualifications in the form of certifications, though not strictly required, can be helpful in showcasing that you have the skills and techniques clients expect proofreaders to have, and help you stand out during the job application process.

With that said, you can study in other fields as well, especially if you want to work as a proofreader for technical or academic content. This makes the job quite accessible to students, freelance writers , and just about anyone with a sharp eye and love for the written word. You can also opt for vocational training programs that specifically teach proofreading, and which come with certifications. 

💰 How much do proofreaders make?

According to ZipRecruiter, professional proofreaders make around $23 per hour on average. As of 2023, that means the average salary of proofreaders is around $47k per year. 

That being said, proofreaders with more experience and expertise — or expertise in niche fields — can command even higher fees, with top professionals making between $30-$35 an hour. Professional proofreaders on Reedsy, for instance, can make anywhere between $600–$1,000 working on a book, depending on the book’s genre and length. 



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If you like the job description and the money sounds good, the next step towards becoming a proofreader is to pick your niche, i.e. what type of texts and industries you would like to work with.

Since media content is everywhere nowadays, you get a lot of choices. You can work with authors on books, with content creators on websites and blog posts, with scholars on academic papers, with reporters on news articles — the list goes on. With the right background, you can even proofread medical texts or court reports. 

Now, as you’re building experience, you can try your hand at a variety of projects, though the key to getting a leg up is to find a specific niche. Each field has their specific requirements in terms of language and format, so it’s simply easier to learn them one at a time. Moreover, your niche is your competitive advantage when applying for proofreading jobs : clients will appreciate expert services more than they do a melange of barely related work experiences.

If you want to work in publishing , it’s even beneficial to narrow your focus down to book genres, since they can require quite different skills. Proofreading a fantasy novel, for instance, may demand sharp attention to details and the mechanics of a fictional language, while proofreading picture books may present technical challenges, notes editor and proofreader Sally Apokedak : 

“If I proof PDFs with illustrations, I take into consideration the design of the book. For instance, maybe the text is centered and paragraphs lack indents. Quote marks can present another problem. So, when possible, I proof the work according to the interior designer ’s rules to maintain consistency.”

With this in mind, consider where your expertise and genuine interest lie, and work towards eeking out your presence in your desired niche.

If you do not yet possess the skills and qualifications to land the proofreading jobs you’re applying for, you might want to consider bulking up your resume with a proofreading course. Since there’s more to proofreading than just reading and catching a spelling mistake here and there, (and since real-life experience can be hard to come by) we highly recommend signing up to a proofreading course that can guide you through other duties of the job. This is what Aja Pollock did: 

“I took a proofreading class at NYU, just to get some kind of credential under my belt, and a class taught by someone who knows what they're doing is a great way to learn best practices and conventions for proofreading. Someone who's new to proofreading might not think to check for things like stacks and ladders or make sure the folios and running heads are correct; you should be able to come out of a class with a full checklist of things to look for beyond just typos.”

A course not only gives you a head start on understanding style guides (more on this in a bit) and grammar rules, it also allows you to familiarize yourself with editing software and provides a chance to practice proofreading while getting feedback from veteran professionals. Working together with your course mates while meeting deadlines not only shows that you're a team player, but is also a great way to kick-start your networking efforts; a proofreading course is a great place to meet potential future colleagues and employers, after all. 

Of course, each program offers different things: some might be more tailored to fiction proofreaders, others to legal paperwork; some can offer more theoretical knowledge, others come with a mentorship program. The point is to find a curriculum that provides the best training for your chosen niche. Start your research with our summary of the best proofreading courses in the market right now. 

Beyond the work that a course gives you, here are some other options to hone your proofreading skills:

Practice, practice, practice

They say practice makes perfect, so get going! Make an effort to proofread anywhere and everywhere you go (silently in your head, of course). And don’t stop with correcting grammar and spelling mistakes; think about your punctuation errors and inconsistencies in language as well. 

For more material to work on, offer to proofread a friend’s work for free. Be mindful of the context of each piece — is it a cover letter, an essay, or a website copy? What style guide would it follow? What kind of English is used — British or American? The answers to questions like these will give you the standards which the piece needs to satisfy, which is the basis of your proofreading work, as a competent proofreader knows how to distinguish between objectivity and personal preferences.

Become a Proofreader | UK and US Versions of the Harry Potter Books

Reading texts with these criteria in mind can sharpen your skills. The more you do it, the more competent you’ll be at noticing discrepancies and errors.

Take a proofreading test

Now that you’ve studied up and practiced your proofreading skills, it’s time to test them out! There are tons of tests out there, ranging from multiple-choice quizzes to textual exercises, that are great for gauging your ability to find and recognize key errors and inconsistencies. For some quick tests, check out these sites:

  • Freelance Writing
  • Editing Tests

As David Haviland says: “One way or another, you need to study the art of writing clearly, stylishly and consistently.” And whether that be through a course or through other avenues, you will have to know how to work with style guides.

Style guides are manuals that provide standard guidelines for the writing and formatting of various documents. If you’re going to become a proofreader, you’re going to want to know them like the back of your hand.

Which style guides you learn, of course, depends on your niche and the types of texts you’ll work with. In many projects, however, the choice will come down to the client so, at the very least, you should acquaint yourself with the following styles:

  • Chicago Manual of Style;
  • APA Style; and

David Haviland notes that he will always ask his clients what style guides they prefer at the start of a project. If your client doesn’t have a preference, you can refer to whatever style guide you feel most comfortable working with.

“It's handy to have a style guide like Chicago on hand,” Thompson adds. “Or whatever style guide your client uses. It's also handy to have a style sheet for a particular project, so copy editors can be encouraged to make those to explain spellings and style choices in the book.”

“I use the Chicago Manual of Style and Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary (online edition), as well as the house style sheet if I'm working for a publisher who has one,” Aja Pollock says. “When you start out, you may need to consult these a lot until you learn the fundamental style conventions and M-W spelling. That can slow things down when you're new to proofreading, but it's part of the learning process.”

If your niche is academic or scholarly in nature, you might also want to consider learning MLA and Turabian Style. Knowing these style guides will help you maintain objectivity and follow consistent rules whenever you’re editing a manuscript.

You can find the handbooks to these styles (which are essential resource books on editing for editorial professionals) in libraries or on the internet. Having the one you're following on hand is always a plus, even when you become an experienced proofreader!

Once you’re all trained up in the proofreading department, you’re ready for your job search. But first, a word of warning: beginners in any editorial field will have less access to quality projects in their desired specialty or genre. Do take smaller proofreading roles that come in at the beginning of your career, and always keep your eyes out for opportunities that are adjacent to your chosen specialty. 

If you manage to weather this challenging first stage, you’ll emerge on the other side with the skills and track record to pull you through the rest of your proofreading career. 

“Proofreading suits a particular kind of person who loves language, cares about the fine details, and has a critical mindset. It’s quite difficult to do well, so there will always be work for a proofreader who is professional, reliable and fastidious.” — David Haviland

Since most proofreading services are provided by freelancers — even publishing houses outsource this task often, to be more economical — you’ll find a lot of proofreading jobs on marketplaces like Reedsy or other freelancer job sites which connect you with a community of writers in need of proofreading services.



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Publishing job boards are also useful platforms to check out. And if you feel like working with a specific publisher or a media company, find and follow their editors on Twitter or LinkedIn. Managing and production editors commission proofreading services all the time — they often post something online when new gigs are available.

💡 Pro-tip: Impress your potential clients with these freelance proposal and invoice templates. 

Setting your rates

In most cases, as you’re a freelancer, you’ll get to set your own proofreading rates . Remember not to undercharge! We recommend thinking about how much you need to cover your living and business costs (think office space and time spent on keeping the books) in order to come up with an absolute minimum, below which you should not accept. 

Experience and exposure is too often used as an excuse to underpay, and you should not accept that, especially if you have nailed down the fundamental skills for the job!

Before you know it, you’ll know plenty of people in the industry and will start finding jobs with ease, perhaps even commanding higher pay. But, don’t forget: keep building your résumé and treat everyone as a potential business partner! Make sure your portfolio is always updated and includes the latest projects relevant to your career goals. 

In other words, focus on presenting pieces that reflect what you want to keep working on and cultivate your professional relationships. So if you want to proofread more fantasy novels, highlight projects that involve other-worldly elements, even if they are review articles or short stories. That way, only the suitable clients will send you a request. Or perhaps you'll know a guy who knows a guy who can hook you up with your next project.

And, Sally Apokedak reminds us, even though proofreading is less concerned with the style and flair of the writing, it’s still an art-form which you can practice and get better at: 

“In all proofing, consistency is king because there is some room for art when proofing. Some of it is science—there is never a time when ‘it's’ will be a possessive pronoun, for instance. But some of it is art—some questions could be punctuated with an exclamation point instead of a question mark, for example. So the key is to make a reasoned choice in the beginning about certain gray areas and then be consistent all the way through to the end.”

Proofreading, just like any other editorial job, will come with its challenges. It’s not uncommon for newcomers to have to deal with low wages, competitive job prospects, and long work hours. But if you put your mind to it and really invest in your craft, then making it as a proofreader will be more than worth it in the long run.



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Top 12 Proofreader Skills to Put on Your Resume

In today's content-driven world, the demand for meticulous proofreaders is at an all-time high, making it crucial for candidates to showcase their best skills on their resumes. Highlighting the top proofreader skills on your resume not only reflects your attention to detail and command over language, but it also positions you as a valuable asset to potential employers, navigating through the competitive landscape of publishing and content creation.

Top 12 Proofreader Skills to Put on Your Resume

Proofreader Skills

  • AP Stylebook
  • Chicago Manual
  • Microsoft Word
  • Adobe Acrobat
  • Attention to Detail
  • Time Management
  • Consistency Checking
  • Fact-Checking
  • Project Management
  • CMS Knowledge
  • SEO Principles

1. Grammarly

Grammarly is a digital writing tool that provides real-time grammar checking, spell checking, and suggestions to improve clarity, sentence structure, and style for English texts, aiding proofreaders in enhancing the quality of their work.

Why It's Important

Grammarly is important for a proofreader as it serves as an efficient, automated tool to detect and correct grammatical errors, typos, and stylistic issues, ensuring high-quality, error-free text.

How to Improve Grammarly Skills

To enhance Grammarly as a proofreading tool, focus on these key areas:

Contextual Understanding : Improve its AI to better understand context and nuances in language. This involves training the algorithm on a diverse set of texts to recognize a wide range of writing styles and intentions. Grammarly AI

Language Support : Expand support for additional languages and dialects, ensuring inclusivity and broader usability. Collaborate with linguists and language experts. Grammarly Language Expansion

User Customization : Allow users to customize rules and suggestions based on their writing goals or industry-specific terminology. This customization could be enhanced by integrating user feedback loops. Grammarly for Developers

Integration Capabilities : Increase its integration capabilities with professional tools and platforms (e.g., Adobe, Google Docs) for a seamless user experience. Grammarly Business Integrations

Feedback Mechanism : Implement a more robust feedback mechanism that allows users to report inaccuracies or overlooked errors, contributing to the tool’s learning and accuracy improvement. Grammarly Support

By focusing on these areas, Grammarly can significantly enhance its service as a proofreading tool, offering more accurate, inclusive, and user-friendly experiences.

How to Display Grammarly Skills on Your Resume

How to Display Grammarly Skills on Your Resume

2. AP Stylebook

The AP Stylebook, utilized by proofreaders, is a comprehensive guide for journalists and writers detailing standards for grammar, spelling, punctuation, and language usage to ensure consistency and accuracy in publications.

The AP Stylebook is essential for a proofreader because it provides a standardized guide for grammar, punctuation, language usage, and formatting, ensuring consistency, clarity, and professionalism in written content across various publications and platforms.

How to Improve AP Stylebook Skills

Improving your proficiency with the AP Stylebook as a proofreader involves a few focused steps. Here’s a concise guide to enhance your skills:

Familiarize Yourself with the Basics : Start by gaining a solid understanding of the fundamental AP Style guidelines. Focus on common areas like punctuation, capitalization, and number usage.

Practice Regularly : Consistent practice is key. Use online exercises and quizzes tailored to AP Style to reinforce your knowledge ( AP Style Quizzes ).

Stay Updated : The AP Stylebook is updated annually. Follow the official AP Stylebook Twitter account (@APStylebook) for real-time updates and tips.

Use Online Resources : Leverage online resources and forums where professionals discuss AP Style questions and changes. Websites like Grammar Girl and Poynter often provide valuable insights into AP Style nuances.

Invest in the AP Stylebook Online : Consider subscribing to the online version of the AP Stylebook ( AP Stylebook Online ). It’s searchable and often more up-to-date than the print version.

Join Workshops and Webinars : Participate in workshops and webinars focused on AP Style. They can provide interactive learning experiences and insights from AP editors.

By incorporating these strategies into your routine, you'll improve your AP Stylebook knowledge, keeping your proofreading skills sharp and current.

How to Display AP Stylebook Skills on Your Resume

How to Display AP Stylebook Skills on Your Resume

3. Chicago Manual

The Chicago Manual of Style is a comprehensive guide widely used for editing and formatting documents in English, providing detailed rules on grammar, punctuation, citation, and style. For a proofreader, it serves as an authoritative reference for ensuring accuracy, consistency, and quality in written materials.

The Chicago Manual of Style is important for a proofreader because it provides a comprehensive set of guidelines for grammar, punctuation, formatting, and citation, ensuring consistency and accuracy in written materials.

How to Improve Chicago Manual Skills

Improving your skills with the Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS) as a proofreader involves a few key strategies. Here's a concise guide:

Familiarize Yourself: Begin by thoroughly reading and understanding the CMOS. Focus on sections most relevant to proofreading. The Chicago Manual of Style Online is a valuable resource.

Practice Regularly: Apply CMOS rules in various editing exercises. Websites like Grammarly can offer practice materials and real-time writing assistance.

Use Quick Guides: Keep a CMOS quick guide or cheat sheet handy for reference. The University of Chicago Press offers FAQs and quick guides.

Join Online Forums: Participate in forums or discussion groups related to editing and proofreading. Websites like Reddit's r/grammar or The Editor's Association of Earth on Facebook can be good platforms for learning and sharing knowledge.

Attend Workshops/Webinars: Look for workshops or webinars that focus on CMOS and proofreading skills. The Editorial Freelancers Association often hosts relevant learning opportunities.

Stay Updated: CMOS updates its guidelines periodically. Subscribe to the CMOS Shop Talk blog for the latest news and tips.

By consistently applying these strategies, you'll gradually improve your proficiency with the Chicago Manual of Style as a proofreader.

How to Display Chicago Manual Skills on Your Resume

How to Display Chicago Manual Skills on Your Resume

4. Microsoft Word

Microsoft Word is a word processing software developed by Microsoft, used for creating, editing, and formatting text documents, offering tools and features beneficial for proofreaders to review and correct text.

Microsoft Word is important for a proofreader because it offers robust spelling and grammar checking tools, track changes feature for editing, and compatibility with various document formats, streamlining the proofreading process and enhancing document accuracy and clarity.

How to Improve Microsoft Word Skills

Improving Microsoft Word for a proofreader involves enhancing its editing, reviewing, and collaboration capabilities. Below are concise suggestions:

Customize Reviewing Options :

  • Tailor the 'Track Changes' and comments features to your specific needs, enabling an efficient review process. Explore Word's comprehensive guide on Track Changes and Comments .

Use Advanced Grammar and Style Check :

  • Leverage Word's Editor for advanced proofreading, including grammar, punctuation, style, and clarity. This tool can be significantly improved with feedback and updates. Learn more at Word's Editor.

Custom Dictionaries and Exclusion Dictionaries :

  • Customize your dictionaries to include industry-specific terminology and exclude commonly misused words. Guidance on managing dictionaries is available here.

Master Shortcuts and Quick Parts :

  • Utilize keyboard shortcuts for common tasks and Quick Parts for frequently used text blocks, enhancing productivity. A list of shortcuts can be found here.

Enhance Collaboration with Real-Time Co-Authoring :

  • Use real-time co-authoring for seamless collaboration with authors and other proofreaders. This feature requires a good understanding and setup for optimal use, as detailed here .

Integrate with Reference Management Software :

  • For academic proofreaders, integrating reference management tools like Zotero or Mendeley can streamline citation checks. While direct integration steps vary, starting points for Zotero and Mendeley can be found at their respective sites.

Regularly Update Word :

  • Ensure you're using the latest version of Word, benefiting from ongoing improvements and new features. Microsoft offers guidance on updating Office applications here .

Implementing these strategies can significantly enhance efficiency and accuracy for proofreaders using Microsoft Word.

How to Display Microsoft Word Skills on Your Resume

How to Display Microsoft Word Skills on Your Resume

5. Adobe Acrobat

Adobe Acrobat is a software application used for creating, editing, viewing, and managing PDF (Portable Document Format) files, offering tools that are valuable for a proofreader to review, annotate, and correct documents.

Adobe Acrobat is crucial for proofreaders because it enables precise annotation, commenting, and editing of PDF documents, ensuring clear communication of corrections and suggestions between the proofreader and the author or publisher.

How to Improve Adobe Acrobat Skills

To enhance Adobe Acrobat for a proofreader, consider these concise tips:

Learn Keyboard Shortcuts : Mastering keyboard shortcuts can significantly speed up navigation and editing tasks.

Utilize the Comment and Markup Tools : Familiarize yourself with the Comment and Markup tools for efficient annotation and feedback.

Customize Toolbars : Tailor the toolbar to include tools you frequently use for proofreading, for a streamlined workflow. Adobe's guide on customizing toolbars can assist.

Use Action Wizard for Repetitive Tasks : Automate repetitive tasks like adding watermarks or Bates numbering using the Action Wizard .

Enhance PDF Readability : Adjust the view settings and use the Read Out Loud feature for a better reading experience, as described in Viewing PDFs and viewing preferences .

Leverage Advanced Search : Use the advanced search function to find and replace text efficiently, which is detailed in Searching PDFs .

By integrating these strategies, proofreaders can significantly improve their efficiency and effectiveness when working with Adobe Acrobat.

How to Display Adobe Acrobat Skills on Your Resume

How to Display Adobe Acrobat Skills on Your Resume

6. Attention to Detail

Attention to detail for a proofreader involves meticulously reviewing text to identify and correct errors in grammar, spelling, punctuation, and formatting, ensuring the document is accurate and polished.

Attention to detail is crucial for a proofreader because it ensures the accuracy, clarity, and consistency of the text, preventing errors that could undermine the document's credibility and the reader's trust.

How to Improve Attention to Detail Skills

Improving attention to detail, especially for a proofreader, involves enhancing observation and concentration skills. Here are concise strategies:

Practice Active Reading: Engage deeply with text by summarizing, questioning, and predicting content. Mind Tools offers techniques for active reading.

Create Checklists: Develop a proofreading checklist to ensure you cover all aspects, such as grammar, punctuation, and consistency. Grammarly provides tips on creating effective checklists.

Take Regular Breaks: Avoid fatigue, which can diminish attention to detail, by taking short breaks. The Pomodoro Technique is a popular method to manage time efficiently.

Eliminate Distractions: Create a focused work environment. Freedom can help block distracting websites and apps.

Practice Mindfulness: Enhance concentration and focus through mindfulness exercises. Headspace offers guided sessions tailored to increase mindfulness.

Each of these strategies can be tailored to fit personal preferences and work styles, contributing to significant improvements in attention to detail for proofreaders.

How to Display Attention to Detail Skills on Your Resume

How to Display Attention to Detail Skills on Your Resume

7. Time Management

Time management for a proofreader involves organizing and allocating specific periods to review and correct written material efficiently, ensuring high-quality work is completed within deadlines.

Time management is crucial for a proofreader as it ensures efficient handling of multiple projects, meets deadlines, maintains high-quality work, and reduces stress, ultimately leading to client satisfaction and a reputable professional standing.

How to Improve Time Management Skills

Improving time management, especially for a proofreader, involves prioritizing tasks, setting realistic deadlines, and minimizing distractions. Here are concise strategies and resources:

Prioritize Tasks: Begin with the most critical projects. Use the Eisenhower Box technique to organize tasks by urgency and importance.

Set Deadlines: Establish clear, achievable deadlines for each project. Tools like Trello can help manage these timelines effectively.

Break Down Tasks: Divide larger projects into smaller, manageable tasks. This can reduce overwhelm and make progress easier to track.

Use Time Blocks: Allocate specific time blocks for focused work. Techniques like the Pomodoro Technique can enhance productivity.

Minimize Distractions: Identify and reduce sources of distraction. Tools like Freedom can block distracting websites and apps during work hours.

Regular Breaks: Take short, regular breaks to rest and recharge, enhancing focus during work periods.

Review and Adjust: Regularly review your productivity and adjust your strategies as needed. Reflection is key to continuous improvement.

By implementing these strategies, a proofreader can manage their time more effectively, enhancing productivity and reducing stress.

How to Display Time Management Skills on Your Resume

How to Display Time Management Skills on Your Resume

8. Consistency Checking

Consistency checking, in the context of proofreading, involves ensuring that all elements of a text (e.g., terminology, spelling, formatting, facts) are uniform and coherent throughout the document, preventing discrepancies or contradictions.

Consistency checking is crucial for a proofreader as it ensures that the text maintains uniformity in style, formatting, terminology, and factual information throughout, enhancing readability and credibility.

How to Improve Consistency Checking Skills

Improving consistency checking in proofreading involves adopting a systematic approach to ensure uniformity across a document. Key strategies include:

Developing a Style Guide : Create or adopt a comprehensive style guide that covers grammar, punctuation, formatting, and terminology preferences. This serves as a reference for maintaining consistency.

Using Proofreading Tools : Leverage proofreading software and tools that can catch inconsistencies in spelling, grammar, and style automatically.

Creating Checklists : Design checklists based on your style guide to cover common inconsistency issues. This ensures you don’t overlook any details during the proofreading process.

Reading Aloud : Reading the text aloud can help catch inconsistencies in tone and flow that might be missed when reading silently.

Peer Reviewing : Engage with other proofreaders or colleagues for a peer review process. Fresh eyes can catch inconsistencies you might have overlooked.

Incorporating these strategies can significantly enhance the consistency checking process in proofreading, making the document more coherent and professional.

How to Display Consistency Checking Skills on Your Resume

How to Display Consistency Checking Skills on Your Resume

9. Fact-Checking

Fact-checking, in the context of proofreading, involves verifying the accuracy and truthfulness of factual statements within a text to ensure they are correct and supported by evidence.

Fact-checking is crucial for proofreaders to ensure accuracy, uphold credibility, and maintain trust by verifying the correctness of information presented in a text.

How to Improve Fact-Checking Skills

Improving fact-checking, especially for a proofreader, involves a methodical approach:

Cross-Reference Reliable Sources : Verify information using reputable and primary sources. Websites like Reuters, AP News , and academic journals are valuable for cross-referencing facts.

Use Fact-Checking Websites : Utilize platforms dedicated to fact-checking. Sites like Snopes , FactCheck.org , and PolitiFact can be quick references for debunking falsehoods or confirming truths.

Check Dates and Context : Ensure the information is current and relevant. Contextual accuracy is as critical as factual correctness.

Verify Quotes and Citations : Double-check quotes and their sources. Tools like Google Scholar and Google Books can be useful for this purpose.

Consult Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) : When possible, reach out to experts in the relevant field for clarification or confirmation of complex information.

Use Digital Tools : Employ tools like Grammarly for grammar and plagiarism checks and Reverse Image Search to verify the authenticity of images.

Remember, thoroughness and skepticism are key traits for effective fact-checking.

How to Display Fact-Checking Skills on Your Resume

How to Display Fact-Checking Skills on Your Resume

10. Project Management

Project Management involves planning, organizing, and overseeing tasks and resources to achieve specific goals within a defined timeline and budget, ensuring project completion to satisfaction and standards.

Project management is crucial for ensuring that tasks are completed efficiently, within budget, and on time, ultimately guaranteeing quality outcomes and client satisfaction. This is vital for a proofreader to manage workloads, meet deadlines, and maintain high standards of accuracy and consistency in their deliverables.

How to Improve Project Management Skills

Improving project management, especially for a Proofreader, involves refining organization, communication, and task management skills. Here are concise strategies:

Define Clear Objectives : Start by setting clear, achievable goals. Understanding what success looks like from the outset can guide the project's direction (Project Management Institute).

Use Project Management Tools : Adopt tools like Trello, Asana, or Monday.com for task tracking and collaboration. These platforms facilitate task assignment, deadlines, and progress tracking, tailored to a Proofreader's needs ( Asana ).

Improve Communication : Establish regular check-ins and use communication tools like Slack or email effectively. Clear, concise communication ensures everyone is aligned and informed ( Slack ).

Prioritize Tasks : Use techniques like the Eisenhower Box to prioritize tasks based on urgency and importance. This helps in focusing on what needs immediate attention ( Eisenhower ).

Feedback Loop : Implement a structured feedback loop with clients and team members to continuously learn and improve. Tools like Google Forms can be used for collecting feedback efficiently ( Google Forms ).

Time Management : Apply time management principles, such as the Pomodoro Technique, to break work into intervals, typically 25 minutes in length, separated by short breaks. This keeps the mind fresh and focused (Francesco Cirillo).

Professional Development : Continually enhance your skills and knowledge in project management through courses and certifications offered by reputable organizations like PMI (Project Management Institute).

Implementing these strategies can enhance efficiency, quality, and satisfaction in project management roles, specifically tailored for Proofreaders.

How to Display Project Management Skills on Your Resume

How to Display Project Management Skills on Your Resume

11. CMS Knowledge

CMS Knowledge refers to familiarity with the Chicago Manual of Style, a comprehensive style guide used in editing and publishing, especially important for proofreaders to ensure consistency and accuracy in text formatting, citation, grammar, and usage.

CMS knowledge is crucial for a proofreader because it ensures adherence to standardized formatting, style, and citation guidelines, enhancing consistency, credibility, and professionalism in published content.

How to Improve CMS Knowledge Skills

To improve your CMS (Content Management System) knowledge as a Proofreader, focus on the following steps:

Engage with Online Courses - Platforms like Coursera and Udemy offer courses on various CMS tools. Look for courses specifically targeted at content management and editing.

Read Official Documentation - Visit the official websites of popular CMS platforms like WordPress , Drupal , and Joomla to access their comprehensive guides and documentation.

Join Online Communities - Engage with communities on Reddit or specialized forums like the WordPress Support Forum to exchange knowledge and tips with other professionals.

Follow Industry Blogs and Websites - Websites like CMSWire and Smashing Magazine frequently publish articles, tutorials, and updates about various CMS platforms.

Practice Regularly - Create your own content on free CMS platforms to get hands-on experience. Experiment with different tools and features to understand their functionality better.

Focusing on these steps will enhance your CMS knowledge, making you a more proficient and efficient Proofreader in managing and reviewing content across various platforms.

How to Display CMS Knowledge Skills on Your Resume

How to Display CMS Knowledge Skills on Your Resume

12. SEO Principles

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) principles for a proofreader involve optimizing written content to improve its visibility and ranking on search engine results pages. This entails ensuring that the text is engaging, well-structured, and incorporates relevant keywords naturally. Additionally, proofreaders should check for and correct any spelling or grammatical errors, as high-quality, error-free content is favored by search engines.

SEO principles are important for a proofreader because they ensure content is optimized for search engines, enhancing visibility and accessibility to target audiences, ultimately increasing reader engagement and website traffic.

How to Improve SEO Principles Skills

Improving SEO principles, especially for a proofreader, involves a few key steps focused on content quality and structure:

Keyword Research : Identify relevant keywords that potential clients might use to find proofreading services. Tools like Google Keyword Planner can help.

Content Quality : Ensure all content is high-quality, error-free, and provides value. As a proofreader, your website should exemplify your proofreading skills.

Meta Tags : Use descriptive title tags and meta descriptions incorporating your keywords. These are crucial for search engines and users. Moz’s Guide to Title Tags offers detailed insights.

Mobile Optimization : Ensure your site is mobile-friendly. Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test can evaluate your site’s performance.

Loading Speed : Improve your site's loading speed to reduce bounce rates. Tools like Google PageSpeed Insights provide performance analysis and recommendations.

Internal Linking : Use internal links to guide visitors through your website, keeping them engaged longer and reducing bounce rates.

Backlinks : Gain backlinks from reputable sites within your niche. This improves your site’s authority and SEO. Ahrefs’ Guide offers strategies for building backlinks.

Local SEO : If you offer proofreading services locally, optimize for local SEO by listing your business on Google My Business and local directories.

Social Media : Share your content on social media to drive traffic and engagement. While not a direct ranking factor, social signals can indirectly benefit SEO.

Analytics : Use tools like Google Analytics to track your site’s performance and adjust your strategy based on data.

Focusing on these aspects will help improve your site's visibility and attract more potential clients to your proofreading services.

How to Display SEO Principles Skills on Your Resume

How to Display SEO Principles Skills on Your Resume

The New York Times

Times insider | copy edit this quiz no. 6.


Times Insider

Copy edit this quiz no. 6.


The Times’s standards editor, Philip B. Corbett, invites readers to correct grammatical errors in recent New York Times articles. You can take the previous quiz here .

Here’s the latest installment of our copy editing quiz, based on internal memos I send to the newsroom about problems in our writing and editing.

Each of the passages below, from recent Times articles, contains at least one clear error in grammar or word usage. I’m not counting less-than-elegant phrasing that could be improved, or other more subjective editing judgments.

You don’t have to explain the error or fix it; just click on the part you think is wrong. If I agree, you’ll see my explanation. If you’re off base, try again.

And remember, we’re on deadline here!

Spot an error in The Times? Write us at [email protected] .

Produced by Samuel Jacoby, Zachary Montague and Rumsey Taylor.

More on NYTimes.com

Om Proofreading logo (it links to the homepage), which has a yellow, seven-petal lotus flower on a blue background.

19 Must-Have Skills to Be a Proofreader

This article may contain affiliate links. Please see our affiliate disclaimer in the footer menu for more information. Thank you for your support!

proofreading skills test

You need a specific set of skills to be a proofreader. If you were your friends’ go-to proofreader in high school or college, that’s probably an indication that you have the potential to do well in this profession. However, it doesn’t mean you can start right away.

Becoming a professional proofreader requires hard work and more than just a strong command of English grammar and mechanics.

Please see my article about online courses if you’d like information about training options for working in this field .

Table of Contents

Essential Proofreading Skills to Be a Proofreader

Let’s discover the specific skills that every proofreader needs in their repertoire.

1) A Great Grasp of Grammar

Grammar is the study of words, how they function relative to context, and how they come together to make sentences. Words can be broken down into categories called parts of speech, depending on their role in a sentence.

The English language contains eight parts of speech: nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions, and interjections.

Some words can serve as multiple parts of speech, depending on their role in a sentence.

Proofreaders need to correctly identify the parts of speech so they can fix mistakes within a document.

For example, the proper capitalization of titles depends on correctly identifying parts of speech.

If you’d like to boost your grammar game, check out my article “ 15 Tried-and-True Tips to Improve Your Grammar.”

2) The Capability to Correct Capitalization Errors

When considering capitalization, proofreaders often have to differentiate between common nouns and proper nouns.

Furthermore, they watch out for writers who mistakenly capitalize certain words because they think those words are particularly important.

Authors tend to do this with words related to religion (if they’re religious) or terms associated with their profession.

Capitalization rules can be surprisingly specific.

3) A Penchant to Proofread for Proper Punctuation

proofreading skills test

Who knew that such little marks could cause such big blunders?

Many people have seen the meme with the first sentence that reads, “Let’s eat Grandma.” Then, some compassionate soul decided to put a comma after the word eat , so the second sentence says, “Let’s eat, Grandma.”

It concludes with this nugget of wisdom: “Punctuation saves lives!”

Proofreaders need to be familiar with the proper use of punctuation marks. Commas, hyphens, and apostrophes tend to be the most complicated marks to master.

To gain more confidence with commas, you can check out Grammar Lion’s free comma mini course .

4) Superb Spelling Smarts

Spelling errors need to be plucked out of a document like weeds out of a garden.

It’s a proofreader’s job to find misspelled words that have made their way past spellcheckers. The common culprits are homophones (e.g., their vs. they’re vs. there).

I published an article called “20+ Difficult Homophones (+ Example Sentences and a Quiz)” if you’d like some practice in this area.

Spellcheckers fail to flag these words that are spelled correctly but used inappropriately in a given context.

Speaking of spelling, let’s go off on a mini tangent. When I was young, my dad taught me how to spell the word coffee phonetically without using any of the letters in the word coffee. He got out a sheet of paper and wrote kauphy . I thought that was neat! 😊

And, yes, I do love my kauphy! 😉

5) Finesse with Fixing Formatting Fumbles

Proofreaders need to hone their eagle eyes to pick up on formatting faux pas like incorrect font type or size.

They also have to be on the lookout for inconsistent spacing between elements in a document (e.g., headers, paragraphs, sentences).

Furthermore, they’ll want to ensure that features like headings, subheadings, and paragraphs are appropriately aligned and that any numbers appear in the correct sequence.

How certain documents are formatted depends on the style guide the proofreader uses.

6) Stellar Style Guide Familiarity

Your style guide will be your number one on-the-job companion. In your early proofreading jobs, you’ll refer to it constantly.

If you proofread in US English, your go-to guide will probably be The Chicago Manual of Style .

Other widely used style guides include The Associated Press Stylebook , the MLA (Modern Language Association) Handbook , and the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association .

I created an article that explains these style guides and how to use them if you’re interested.

Finally, if you fancy proofreading UK English, you’ll probably follow New Hart’s Rules: The Oxford Style Guide .

7) Refined Research Ability

Proofreading requires a lot of research, some of which will take place in a dictionary. The dictionary you use will be dictated by the style guide you’re following.

You’ll often look up words not to check their meaning but to verify how they’re spelled, if they’re one word or two, if they need to be hyphenated, and what part of speech they belong to.

In terms of writing a word as one word or two, pick up is a verb, but pickup can serve as a noun or an adjective.

Also, I would need to use a couple of hyphens in this sentence: I use coffee as a morning pick-me-up . Very true, by the way.

Finally, an example of when the part of speech matters is deciding whether to capitalize a word in a title.

You’ll also do a lot of research using Google .

I use Google to check the spelling of industry-specific terms that have yet to be included in my spellchecker’s dictionary. I also refer to Google if I need to know something about an unfamiliar subject.

Finally, you’ll spend a substantial amount of time doing research in the style guide you’re using.

A bit more about that soon.

8) Competence with Computers


In addition to knowing how to get what you need from Google, you’ll need to understand how to use specific software.

As a freelance proofreader, it’s necessary to be familiar with Track Changes in Microsoft Word.

Track Changes is a function in Word that allows you to make easy-to-see corrections and comments in a document. Your client can then review each revision to decide whether to keep or reject it. They’ll also read the comments you’ve made in the margins.

Although most freelance proofreaders prefer to work with Track Changes in Word (and most clients send Word documents), a few clients would rather work in Google Docs.

Google Docs has a feature that’s a lot like MS Word Track Changes: the Suggesting feature. You’ll undoubtedly be able to land more jobs if you’re familiar with the Suggesting feature in Google Docs.

Some freelancers even learn to work with PDFs.

Now and then, I (as a freelancer) come across a client with a PDF. However, PDF markup software will likely be the norm if you work for a publishing company.

If you’d like to learn more about Track Changes in MS Word, the Suggesting feature in Google Docs, and PDF markup tools in Adobe PDF editor, please see my post “What Software Do Proofreaders Use?”

9) Capacity to Concentrate for a Long Time

Proofreading requires a high degree of focus.

Although you’ll be taking frequent breaks, it’ll be necessary to maintain concentration for numerous hours during the workday if proofreading is your full-time job.

If you’re constantly distracted, getting through projects will take a long time. So, you’re going to have to be able to hocus-pocus focus! 😊

10) Keen Attention to Detail

Perfectionistic and punctilious are two of the best adjectives to describe proofreaders. They tend to have a natural knack for spotting errors since they look closely at the little things.

Proofreaders go through texts with a fine-tooth comb to find errors, like Sherlock Holmes carefully combed through crime cases for clues.

You’ll be the detective on a mission to spot the teeny-weeny mistakes.

Brevity is key in résumés and PowerPoint presentations. Therefore, these texts contain fewer words, and any mistakes tend to stand out.

When every little detail counts, you’ll be the one who makes sure these pieces of writing are on point.

11) Ability to Work Alone

Even if you work at a company, proofreading is done solo.

If you plan on becoming a freelancer and feel a bit iffy about this, you can work at a coffee shop or bookstore so that you’ll be surrounded by people.

I love going to my local Barnes & Noble café to sip on some delicious coffee while I’m on error patrol. That way, I don’t get too lonely.

12) High Level of Self-Discipline

proofreading skills test

If you work as a freelancer, no one will be around to keep you on track and motivated except yourself.

Of course, you’ll be accountable to your clients, but they won’t be there looking over your shoulder to ensure you get the work done.

Having a high level of self-control is essential. It’ll enable you to keep your focus on your client’s document instead of on your friends’ latest Facebook posts (or any other time suck).

13) Inclination to Be an Independent Thinker

You’ll make all the decisions in your proofreading work.

You have to decide to take that comma out or leave it in. If this sounds intimidating, don’t worry—it gets better!

You’ll build more confidence in your proofreading abilities as you hone your skills.

You just have to be willing to research what you don’t know and come to your own conclusion when making the final call on that comma.  

14) A Knack for Staying Organize d While Juggling Multiple Jobs

Proofreaders typically take on more than one assignment at a time. This means they’ll have different deadlines to meet.

They need to know exactly how much work they have to get done each day to complete their jobs on time.

They must plan well in advance if they take on long projects (books, e-books, etc.).

It’s essential not to take on more work than you can manage. Sacrificing quality for quantity is a surefire way to lose clients and tarnish your reputation.

Meeting tight deadlines is one of the most challenging aspects of being a proofreader.

Om Proofreading discusses the benefits and drawbacks of proofreading work if you’d like to delve into this topic.

15) A Love of Reading

This one is fairly obvious. As we all know, proof reading involves a lot of reading.

If you don’t enjoy reading, it will be a ginormous challenge to enjoy proofreading.

I’ll be honest. I don’t like reading fiction. Gasp! I know. I wish I did, but I don’t. I feel like I’m one of the few people who couldn’t make it past the first chapter of the first book in the Harry Potter series.

My mom and sister devour fiction, but my dad and I keep it at a distance. I also don’t proofread fiction. It’s just not my thing, and that’s okay. I am, however, a voracious reader of nonfiction.

Just make sure you love to read in general, and you should be good to go!  

16) Broad General Knowledge

A wooden bookshelf in the shape of a human brain filled with books on various subjects.

When you start proofreading, you’ll probably be working on a variety of texts. This is because you’ll need to take the jobs you can get to gain experience. Therefore, it’s helpful to have a wide range of knowledge.

After you’ve gotten some experience, it’s beneficial to market your proofreading services to a niche where you’ll have less competition.

You can do this while working on a wide array of texts until you’re sure you can maintain a steady stream of clients who provide you with jobs in your niche.

For example, if you fancy financial texts, marketing materials, and management matters, your niche could be proofreading business documents.

I wrote an article about choosing a proofreading niche if you’re interested. 

17) Commitment to Being a Lifelong Learner

Language is continually evolving.

According to The Chicago Manual of Style , “With frequent use, open or hyphenated compounds tend to become closed ( on line to on-line to online ).”

Style guides themselves are occasionally updated as well.  

Dictionaries are also regularly adding new words. For example, hashtag and fist pump were a couple of additions to the eleventh edition of Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary.

Finally, new industry-specific terms pop up from time to time.

Proofreaders need to be up to date with these kinds of changes.

18) Solid Written Communication (Especially Freelance Proofreaders)

Proofreaders need to be able to communicate clearly and effectively in writing.

If you’re working in a publishing house, your written communication will probably be in the form of emails with other publishing team members.

However, if you’re doing freelance work, you’ll communicate directly with your clients in writing via email or some other platform.

Considering you’ll be responsible for correcting errors in their written work, they’ll expect you to have excellent written communication skills.

19) Some Money Management and Marketing Skills (Freelance Proofreaders Only)

As a freelancer, you’ll be required to keep track of your income and business expenses for tax purposes and prepare your taxes.

Knowing how to market yourself (whether through social media platforms, cold emailing, or distributing business cards) is also a necessary skill.

You’ll have to be proactive to develop a client base.

The Freelancer’s Bible is a fabulous resource for freelancers of all kinds. It was written by Sara Horowitz, who founded Freelancers Union.

This book provides a wealth of helpful knowledge for starting, managing, and growing your business. In a nutshell, it’s your guide to success as a freelancer.

I hope this post has helped you gain insight into the skills you need to become a proofreader. If your goal is to work on error patrol 😉, I published a post about becoming a proofreader, even if you don’t have any experience .  

You may also be interested in my post about proofreading techniques if you’re looking for ways to catch more mistakes in your writing.

Frequently Asked Questions


Do I need a degree to be a proofreader?

You do not need a degree to be a proofreader. Nowadays, many jobs in the proofreading industry are freelance and don’t require a degree.

As long as you have a firm grasp of grammar and mechanics coupled with excellent proofreading skills, you can be a proofreader.

Postsecondary education undoubtedly helps improve your reading and writing abilities. However, plenty of high school graduates are avid readers and wonderful writers.

Although many companies prefer to hire someone with a degree (especially in English or journalism), this is not always a requirement. Of course, some companies won’t even consider you for a job unless you hold a master’s degree or a PhD.

If you’d like to learn where to find jobs as a new proofreader without a degree, Om Proofreading talks about online proofreading jobs for beginners in this in-depth article.

In sum, if you (degree or no degree) have a strong command of English and are willing to put time and effort into learning the art of proofreading, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a proofreader extraordinaire!

I authored an article about the qualifications proofreaders need if you’re curious about what you do and don’t need to know for various proofreading jobs.

How do I get a job if I don’t have proof of my proficiency as a proofreader?

You need experience to get the job, but you need a job to get the experience. Doesn’t this sound familiar? It’s the ol’ catch-22. Frustrating. I know. But there are ways around it!

You can start by displaying any certificate of completion you’ve earned in a proofreading course to show you’ve received formal training.

This can be posted on your business website or in the profile you’ve set up on a freelancing website. Om Proofreading has an article about how to obtain a proofreading certificate if you’d like to know more. 

Another way to prove your skills to a potential client is by offering to proofread a small portion of their document .

In the industry, this is known as a sample edit. I’ve seen proofreaders provide sample edits ranging from 250 to 1,000 words. Some do this for free, while others charge a fee. Either way, this lets potential clients see how you’d be able to help them.

You can also demonstrate your proficiency by passing the proofreading test required by some companies as an entry requirement .

These businesses require their applicants to take a test so they can quickly weed out those who don’t yet have the skills for the job.

Finally, another option is to have many positive reviews on a freelancing site like Upwork, Fiverr, or Freelancer .

You’ll likely have to start by charging a low price to attract clients, but at least this will get the ball rolling. If you deliver excellent service at an affordable price, it’s a safe bet that you’ll start accumulating glowing reviews. Eventually, you can increase your fees as you see fit.

How do I become a good proofreader?

To become a good proofreader, you need to take a comprehensive course and practice what you’ve learned.

You can practice by taking proofreading tests , reading relevant books and blogs, and listening to podcasts that deal with proofreading matters (grammar, punctuation, etc.).

If you’d like specific suggestions for improving your proofreading proficiency, you may enjoy reading my post “15 Guaranteed Ways to Become a Better Proofreader.”

Best wishes to you!

“I never lose. I either win or learn.” – Nelson Mandela

proofreading skills test

Lindsay Babcock

Lindsay is the creator of Om Proofreading. She has a BA in psychology and earned a certificate in proofreading by passing the final exam in Proofread Anywhere’s general proofreading course. She shares what she’s learning in the field and through research to inform and inspire her readers.

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Quick Guide to Proofreading | What, Why and How to Proofread

Published on June 21, 2019 by Shona McCombes . Revised on December 11, 2023.

Proofreading means carefully checking for errors in a text before it is published or shared. It is the very last stage of the writing process , when you fix minor spelling and punctuation mistakes, typos, formatting issues and inconsistencies.

Proofreading is essential for any text that will be shared with an audience, whether it’s an academic paper, a job application, an online article, or a print flyer. Depending on your skills and budget, you can choose to proofread the text yourself, use an AI proofreader , or hire a professional.

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Table of contents

Proofreading example, proofreading vs editing, proofreading tips and tricks, choosing a proofreading service, recommended proofreading service, frequently asked questions about proofreading.

In the publishing industry, proofreaders usually check a printed “proof copy” of the text and mark corrections using specialized proofreading marks. In other fields, though, professional proofreaders often work with digital texts and make corrections directly using the track changes feature in Microsoft Word or Google Docs.

proofreading example

Here's why students love Scribbr's proofreading services

Discover proofreading & editing

Editing and proofreading are different steps in the process of revising a text. Editing can involve major changes to content, structure and language, but proofreading focuses only on minor errors and inconsistencies.

Often a text will go through several stages of editing before it is proofread. The table below shows some common steps in the editing process.

The four stages of editing and proofreading

Type of editing What it involves
Step 1: Content editing Revising an early draft of a text, often making significant changes to the content and moving, adding or deleting entire sections (also known as developmental or substantive editing).
Step 2: Line editing Revising the use of language to communicate your story, ideas, or arguments as as possible.

This might involve changing words, phrases and sentences and restructuring to improve the flow of the text.

Step 3: Copy editing Polishing individual sentences to ensure correct grammar, a clear , and stylistic consistency, often following the rules of a specific style guide (such as or ).

Copy editors don’t change the content of a text, but if a sentence or is ambiguous or awkward, they can work with the author to improve it.

Step 4: Proofreading Carefully checking for any remaining errors, such as misspelled words, , and stylistic inconsistencies.

In print publishing, proofreaders are also responsible for checking the formatting (e.g., page numbers and line spacing).

Do I need to go through every stage?

It depends on the type and length of text. You don’t need to strictly follow the division of tasks shown above, but a good piece of writing will nearly always go through a similar process of revising, editing and proofreading.

In the traditional publishing process, the stages are clearly divided, with different professionals responsible for each revision. A separate proofread of the final print version is necessary, especially because new typographical errors can be introduced during production.

However, in texts that don’t need to be formatted for mass printing, there is often more overlap between the steps. Some editorial services combine copy editing and proofreading into a single stage (sometimes called proof-editing), where grammar, syntax and style are addressed at the same time as minor spelling and punctuation errors (e.g., commas , quotation marks and parentheses ).

Basic proofreading skills are important for anyone who writes. For everyday texts, such as business reports, blogs, or college papers, there are some techniques you can use to proofread efficiently and effectively before sharing your work.

Edit your writing first

Before you get to the final stage of proofreading, make sure you’ve thoroughly revised and edited your work. There’s no point spending time fixing minor errors if you might later remove whole sections or rewrite paragraphs. Only proofread once you’ve got a completed final draft that you’re happy with.

Take a break from the text

When you’ve been reading and rereading the same words for hours or days, it becomes much harder to notice common mistakes . Before proofreading, set your work aside for a while so that you can look at it with fresh eyes.

Ideally you should wait at least a day or two before final proofreading, but if you’re on a tight deadline, even a half hour break can help.

Proofread a printout

Seeing your words on a printed page is another useful strategy for noticing things that might have escaped your attention on the screen. If the final version will be printed, this is also a good chance to check your formatting is correct and consistent on the page.

Use digital shortcuts

While reading from print can help you spot errors, an online proofreader can help you fix them efficiently. Most obviously, run a spell check—but don’t rely on the computer to catch every mistake.

If you notice that you’ve repeatedly misspelled a particular word, inconsistently capitalized a term, or switched between UK and US English , you can use the Find and Replace function to fix the same mistake throughout the document.

Be careful, though, and don’t use “replace all”. Click through and check every replacement to avoid accidentally adding more errors!

Learn from your mistakes

Pay attention to the errors that keep recurring in the text. This can help you avoid them in future.

Knowing what to look out for is the most challenging part of proofreading. You’ll probably notice obvious typos, but subtle mistakes in grammar and punctuation can be harder to recognize. The table below shows some of the most common errors to look out for.

What to watch out for when proofreading

Spelling and word choice confusions )  ( )
Misplaced punctuation ,
Stylistic inconsistency of terms or titles
Formatting issues and

If you lack confidence in your written English, or if you just want to ensure you haven’t missed anything in an important document, you might want to consider using a professional proofreading service.

There are two main options: you can hire a freelance proofreader, or you can send your document to a proofreading and editing company. There are various things to consider when choosing a service.

Do you only need proofreading or also editing?

It’s important to have a clear idea of how much work your text requires. People often think they only need proofreading when, in reality, the text would benefit from some level of editing as well.

If you send a proofreader a document full of grammar mistakes, confusing sentences, and difficult-to-follow paragraphs, they might decline the job or recommend a different service.

Many freelancers and companies offer both editing and proofreading, either separately (with separate pricing) or combined into one service. Make sure you understand exactly what kind of changes are included. Will the editor only correct minor errors, or will they also comment on awkward phrasings and structural issues?

Should the proofreader be specialized in your type of document?

Many different types of documents require proofreading: from literary novels to technical reports, from PhD dissertations to promotional flyers . The best choice of service is usually one that’s specialized in your type of document.

While proofreaders and copy editors generally don’t need expert knowledge of the text’s content, the process will be smoother if your proofreader is familiar with the rules and conventions of the genre you’re working in.

How much does proofreading cost?

The cost of proofreading varies widely. The price depends partly on the proofreader’s location and level of experience, the type and length of text, and the turnaround time. Rates are usually calculated per word or per hour. If the service also focuses on formatting, it may be priced per page.

How long does proofreading take?

You should try to leave plenty of time for editing and proofreading, but if you have a hard deadline, it’s important to find a service that can deliver on time.

Most companies offer various choices of deadline, but it’s best to plan a minimum of 24 hours for proofreading. The price will generally be lower if you can wait longer to have your document returned.

For very long documents, it might not be possible to complete the job in 24 hours, especially if you also need editing services. For combined proofreading and copy editing, you can expect an experienced editor to complete around 10,000–15,000 words in a single day.

How can you check the quality and reliability of the service?

Like everything on the internet, the quality of proofreading services varies widely. Do your research before you choose one. There are a few things you can check:

  • Online reviews : are they rated on independent review sites (e.g., Trustpilot ) or freelancer platforms (e.g., Upwork )?
  • Qualifications : do they have professional training and experience? If you’re using a company, how do they select and train proofreaders?
  • Customer service : are they easily contactable and responsive to inquiries?
  • Complaints policy : what happens if you’re not happy with the job? Can you get a refund or a second edit?
Type Advantages Disadvantages
Automated proofreaders
Freelance proofreaders
Proofreading companies

Receive feedback on language, structure, and formatting

Professional editors proofread and edit your paper by focusing on:

  • Academic style
  • Vague sentences
  • Style consistency

See an example

proofreading skills test

Scribbr offers proofreading services for students and academic editing services for all sorts of study-related documents, including essays, papers, theses, dissertations, reports, and proposals.

The basic service combines proofreading and copy editing at a rate of  $0.017 per word. You can choose between a 24-hour, 3-day, or 7-day turnaround time.

Scribbr is rated  4.6   on Trustpilot, with 13,069  reviews so far.

Editing and proofreading are different steps in the process of revising a text.

Editing comes first, and can involve major changes to content, structure and language. The first stages of editing are often done by authors themselves, while a professional editor makes the final improvements to grammar and style (for example, by improving sentence structure and word choice ).

Proofreading is the final stage of checking a text before it is published or shared. It focuses on correcting minor errors and inconsistencies (for example, in punctuation and capitalization ). Proofreaders often also check for formatting issues, especially in print publishing.

Whether you’re publishing a blog, submitting a research paper , or even just writing an important email, there are a few techniques you can use to make sure it’s error-free:

  • Take a break : Set your work aside for at least a few hours so that you can look at it with fresh eyes.
  • Proofread a printout : Staring at a screen for too long can cause fatigue – sit down with a pen and paper to check the final version.
  • Use digital shortcuts : Take note of any recurring mistakes (for example, misspelling a particular word, switching between US and UK English , or inconsistently capitalizing a term), and use Find and Replace to fix it throughout the document.

If you want to be confident that an important text is error-free, it might be worth choosing a professional proofreading service instead.

The cost of proofreading depends on the type and length of text, the turnaround time, and the level of services required. Most proofreading companies charge per word or page, while freelancers sometimes charge an hourly rate.

For proofreading alone, which involves only basic corrections of typos and formatting mistakes, you might pay as little as $0.01 per word, but in many cases, your text will also require some level of editing , which costs slightly more.

It’s often possible to purchase combined proofreading and editing services and calculate the price in advance based on your requirements.

There are many different routes to becoming a professional proofreader or editor. The necessary qualifications depend on the field – to be an academic or scientific proofreader, for example, you will need at least a university degree in a relevant subject.

For most proofreading jobs, experience and demonstrated skills are more important than specific qualifications. Often your skills will be tested as part of the application process.

To learn practical proofreading skills, you can choose to take a course with a professional organization such as the Society for Editors and Proofreaders . Alternatively, you can apply to companies that offer specialized on-the-job training programmes, such as the Scribbr Academy .

Cite this Scribbr article

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McCombes, S. (2023, December 11). Quick Guide to Proofreading | What, Why and How to Proofread. Scribbr. Retrieved June 7, 2024, from https://www.scribbr.com/language-rules/what-is-proofreading/

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