So, you’ve written a document and it needs to be perfect. Trouble is, you’re now so close to it that you can’t see the wood for the trees.
However good your writing is, when words represent your business or brand you know that even one typo won’t reflect well. You might be asking yourself, ‘Can I afford to hire a proofreader?’ when the question really should be, ‘Can I afford not to?’
You could do with a second pair of eyes, but how much does proofreading cost?
It makes sense to compare quotes so you Google “proofreading prices”. BAM! You fall at the first hurdle. You wouldn’t be the first person to find proofreading costs confusing. Rates can seem alarmingly different because they’re priced by the hour, by the word, by the page, and by the project.
There’s more than one way to skin a cat – and several ways to price proofreading. Let me explain…
1) By the word – This enables you to know exactly how much a project will cost.
Most proofreaders apply a cost-per-word price depending on the quality and complexity of writing. If your writing is good and your topic straightforward, it will cost less per word than if English is your second language and your writing is highly technical.
My proofreading prices range from 0.05c to 0.08c per word. To determine the price of your job, I’ll ask to see a sample (with confidentiality assured) to gauge its quality and complexity. Once I’ve seen it, I’ll give you a fixed price per word so you know exactly what your project will cost.
2) By the hour – This enables you to compare the hourly rate of a proofreader with other freelancers who may work for you on an hourly rate. But you won’t know the exact price until the job’s done.
I charge $140 per hour for proofreading. And since I’m fast and good, you’ll get the benefit of my speed and skill. Yes, other proofreaders may charge a lower per hour fee. But that’s probably because they’re less experienced and take longer. You may end up paying the same, but my work will be quicker with quality assured.
3) By the page – When your document fits the industry standard of 250-300 words per page.
If your page layout has 12 pt Roman or Courier, double-spacing and 1” margins, you can compare per page proofreading prices.
My per page rate, depending on the amount of intervention required, ranges from $10 to $20. In order to give you a fixed price, I’ll ask to see a number of pages to gauge the quality and complexity. As above, once I’ve seen the work, I can give you a per page price.
4) By the project – This gives you the advantage of budgeting for the work in its entirety.
Sometimes a by-the-project fee is the best plan of action if the job includes a mixture of text, graphics, tables or other factors. The fee is based on the size and nature of the job and turnaround time.
A note on fast turnaround proofreading
The price of proofreading can vary depending on how fast you want it turned around. A fast turnaround generally increases the price but remember if your deadline is too tight, a quality job may not be possible at all.
A note on the differences between proofreading and copy editing
Often, you may think you need a proofreader but your work actually requires a copy edit. Rates for copy editing are higher and again, depend on the kind of intervention required.
Proofreading fixes the surface errors and perfects good writing
- Corrects grammar, spelling, punctuation and typos
- Checks page numbers are consecutive and running headers and footers are correct
- Ensures consistency of spelling, hyphenation and formatting
- Cross checks chapter titles/pages/footnotes
- Ensures a publication-ready document.
Copy editing improves the quality of writing within the context of its purpose and audience
- Corrects grammar, spelling, punctuation and typos
- Enhances language use via vocabulary, tone and expression
- Checks tense, syntax and sentence structure
- Eliminates repetition, redundancy and ambiguity
- Improves style and impact
- Ensures clarity and succinctness so your writing has maximum impact.
If you’re satisfied with the quality of your writing then proofreading will suffice. But if you feel there are issues with your writing that could do with some reevaluation and rewriting, then copy editing is the service for you.
Some providers will try to sell you a proofreading service after they’ve completed your copy edit. In some cases, this is necessary (for example if the job is a manuscript). In most cases, I can provide both services at once thereby reducing your costs.
A note about proofreading formats – Word, hard copy or pdf
Most proofreaders prefer to work on Word documents. The Track Changes tool is easy to use and allows changes to be made directly to the work. The author can review changes before accepting or rejecting them.
I get a kick from marking up documents in hard copy using my trusty red pen and professional proofreading marks. If you’d like your document proofread by hand, you may find it hard to find someone with this experience.
If your job is in pdf format and requires markup in Adobe Reader, this is doable but the work will take longer and so the fee may be higher.
Still can’t decide if your document needs proofreading?
Just a few errors can distract the reader from the purpose of your prose and have them questioning your professionalism. So when it’s your business or reputation at stake, can you really afford to let the cost of proofreading stand in your way?
Remember, when searching for answers to the question ‘How much does proofreading cost?’, it’s usually only less experienced folk who’ll work for lower rates as a way to gain experience. Offshore proofreading factories employing non-native proofreaders also offer low rates – but a poor proofreading job is a waste of your time and your money. An online checker like Grammarly could be an option, but in my experience, a robot is simply unable to understand the nuances of the English language.
An experienced proofreader will charge a fair and reasonable rate that reflects their professionalism and offers good value for a quality job. I’m pleased to say that I have many clients (including newspapers, government agencies, curriculum developers and other copywriters) who are regulars on my proofreading books.
Submit a sample of your document by email to firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll get back to you with a fixed price.