Proofreading is the very last step in the publishing process: the manuscript has already been drafted, reviewed (if necessary), and copyedited. It’s likely also gone to a designer, who’s laid it out on a web page or an InDesign file. Basically, you’re ready to press print, and you want someone to go over the completed project to ensure consistency between the different parts (that the chapter titles in the TOC match the titles used at the beginning of each chapter) and that there are no embarrassing typos.

Proofreading is generally used to address some or all of the following:

  • Homonyms (compliment/complement, bare/bear)
  • Common misspellings that aren’t caught by spell checkers (pubic vs. public) 
  • Incorrect punctuation (like a hyphen where an en dash should appear)
  • Stray or missing spaces between words and paragraphs
  • Layout and typesetting issues like line and word breaks, widows and orphans
  • Illustration placement and caption consistency
  • Running headers in chapters
  • Checking the chapter titles to the table of contents

Potential clients often confuse proofreading with copyediting (read about the difference here). While you may feel that your text only needs a proofread, unless a designer has laid out the text into a proof, it likely is not yet ready for proofreading; instead, it still may need a light copyedit to address more minor issues like punctuation and word choice. At the proofreading stage, the proofreader should only find the occasional error that the copyeditor did not catch.

Types of projects that need proofreading are dissertations that have already been edited and are ready for deposit, books that have been laid out by a designer, and journal article proofs.

Price: $0.03 per word

Includes: One editorial pass to the proof and one shorter response to any queries, within reason, which must be sent to the proofreader within 14 days of final delivery.

When: Proofreading is the very last step before your manuscript goes to print. By this point, the text needs to be laid out by a designer into a PDF proof or other design document.

How long does it take? A typical proofread of a book takes 1–2 weeks.

Need help with something else?

The Big Picture

Strengthen argument/thesis

Improve organization and structure

Suggest ways to expand or cut back evidence

Respond to or address peer-reviewer feedback

Tell a better "story" with your manuscript

Writing Style

Improve overall writing style and word choice

Improve sentence syntax

Address transitions between sentences and paragraphs

"Smooth" rough translations to English from another language

Dramatically cut word count


Correct grammar and punctuation errors

Correct sentence syntax

Apply a style manual like the Chicago Manual of Style, APA, or MLA to body text and citations (footnotes, endnotes, bibliography)

Ensure consistency

Eliminate repetition

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