Why UK proofreading rates vary

Greer Glover

What is proofreading?

Proofreading is where errors in spelling, grammar and punctuation are corrected. It’s the last sweep for mistakes in the editing process. It’s also the final stage before your work is published. However choosing a proofreader for your work can be difficult when UK proofreading rates vary so much. Read on to find out why this is.

Why proofread?

Proofreading is essential if you want to present your work in the best possible light. Your work is likely to be taken more seriously by your reader or client if it’s error-free. To get it to this standard, expect to have to pay industry standard rates.

Changes in the traditional editing process

Traditionally, proofreading is a specific form of editing addressing a tight remit of looking for spelling, grammar and punctuation errors. It follows the copyediting stage and a proofreader may have to follow a style sheet that has been compiled by a copyeditor. If no style sheet is available, a proofreader can draw one up for you.

These days authors have the option to self-publish and this also means they control all editing surrounding their work. Because they have to fund every stage of the self-publishing process they often pick and choose the kind of editing they want to pay for.

They may want a developmental edit and copyedit, or a manuscript evaluation followed by a proofread.

Similarly, businesses and organisations needing website copy, web content and marketing materials could choose to skip copyediting and opt for just proofreading instead.

Changes in expectations

Along with self-published authors retaining control of their own work, there’s also been a huge growth in the amount of written content digitally – which means more copy needs to be edited.

It’s meant a change in the way people view the editing services and a change in the role of the proofreader.

Some clients want a proofreader to change only the bare minimum. Budget or time constraints could be behind this.

Some want a copyedit and proofread in one go – and lump it together to call it proofreading.

Some want a proofreader to revise areas of a text that don’t make sense or which would benefit from restructuring. This is a popular request from clients like small businesses, who want editing and writing at the same time.

It’s therefore important that your proofreader is fully aware of your expectations. Variances will affect UK proofreading rates.

Working out fees

There are different ways of working out what to charge and this depends on the kind of text being proofread as well as its length.

Proofreaders may record how long it takes them to proofread a sample of text, using that figure to work out how long it will take to proofread the work as a whole. They’ll then apply their hourly rate to reach a final cost.

However, this cost may need to be adjusted if they discover sections in your text that are trickier to proofread. Your proofreader should let you know from the outset that there may be an adjustment to the quote, or as soon as possible while completing the job.

Some proofreaders give a fixed fee based on word count, regardless of what they might find as they do the work.

In academic texts, the cost of proofreading citations and references can increase the fee. These are particularly fiddly and require a certain skill set.

The content of your text may also mean a proofreader with knowledge of a specialist area is required. Proofreaders who are experts in a certain subject area are likely to charge more – so it’s easy to see why UK proofreading rates can vary.

You can check out the Chartered Institute for Editing and Proofreading (CIEP) for suggested minimum UK proofreading rates.

Formats

Proofreading can be done on hardcopy or on-screen. It could involve marking up using traditional BSI symbols or if it’s a digital document, using track changes, highlighting and comment tools on Word files and PDFs.

Some formats require knowledge of programmes such as Microsoft Word or if it’s a PDF, Adobe Acrobat.

You may want a proofreader to check web pages, so they need to be experienced in knowing how to record their findings. They may also need to be confident using CMS.

All these requirements affect UK proofreading rates.

So when gathering quotes, make sure to give proofreaders as much information as you can surrounding the text you’d like proofread. The more information the more accurate their quote will be.

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Picture of Greer Glover

Greer Glover

Fiction Editor I Mentor I Writer