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Proofreader: why do I need a proofreader?

Updated: Oct 7, 2020

Proofreader: why do I need a proofreader?

“The difference between something good and something great is attention to detail.”

– Charles R Swindoll

I love proofreading, supporting others with their writing and looking for the finer details. So here are my top tips on why you need a proofreader.

Knowledge and training


Second pair of eyes

Improving the finished product

Knowledge and training

Proofreaders have undertaken rigorous training to develop their skills to spot the smallest of details. I undertook my training with the Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading. Within the Institute, proofreaders can gain recognition for their skills and work their way up to professional status. Proofreaders knowledge involves knowing what to look out for and what the most common errors are. It is like going on holiday to a new location and having a guide show you around the best areas to ensure you have an amazing holiday. They are skilled in the correct usage of grammar and punctuation, even annoying things such as hyphens. Is it ice-cream or ice cream? A proofreader would know.

Proofreaders have skills in Microsoft Word using Track changes and commenting tools. They can make changes to your document and add queries in comments to support your writing. Then when you get the returned document you can either accept or reject the changes. Then swiftly Track changes makes all the changes for you and you have the finished product. Or if you have written your project as a PDF, a proofreader can use Adobe Acrobat and commenting tools to support you with the changes. They are also trained in using BSI proofreading symbols, like learning another language of different symbols. These can be used to mark up changes on a PDF or on paper. Proofreaders take great pride in the product and keeping their skills up to date to ensure you get the best service.


When reading a piece of text, proofreaders are constantly cross-checking information to ensure it makes sense, follows what has previously been written and is quality content. They have an excellent memory and when they read a new paragraph can remember if you used a different phrase in the last chapter to describe the same thing. Proofreaders are always looking for consistency.

Proofreaders look at the document as a whole. Do the titles all match the same style? Are the paragraphs indented? Are capital letters consistent throughout or on one page does it say Primary School and on the next page primary school? Most proofreaders have a detailed checklist to work through. Like when I go on holiday I have a checklist for my packing, to ensure I have everything I need to have a great holiday. You wouldn't want to go on holiday without your swimming costume or passport. So why would you risk your writing being seen without correct hyphens or spellings?

Second pair of eyes

There is also the classic saying:

"You read what you know you have written"

Everyone always checks their own writing. But you are so close to the project and know what you want it to say. So you basically read it as correct even if there is a mistake. It is always best to get a second pair of eyes to read it, someone who does not know the content and will read it fresh. Can you read the example below?

Why do I need a proofreader?

Improving the finished product

The proofreading process requires a level of understanding to ensure the document is of the highest quality. Someone who goes above and beyond to produce spotless work. When proofreading, I also like to support and empower the writers with tips about improving their writing. For example, word usage or if certain sections are not clear.

When a proofreader reads through your document they get to know your writing style and get an insight into you as a person. It is like making a new friend and by the end, they know your project inside out and feel a part of the process. It is a supportive role working together to achieve a quality finished product. Proofreaders have excellent communication skills and can ensure an author's distinct voice is heard throughout a project.

I love being a proofreader, I get to read all day, support others and ensure quality publications.

“Attention to detail is not about perfection. It’s about excellence, about constant improvement.”

– Chris Denny

I am a freelance proofreader with a love of learning, feel free to contact me if you need support with your writing.

Thank you for reading 'Proofreader: why do I need a proofreader?' Want to find more out about how much does proofreading cost?

Check out my blog "Proofreading: how much does proofreading cost?" on my website, or say hello on Twitter at @alisonproofread, or Instagram at @alisonproofreader, or connect via Facebook and LinkedIn.

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