Proofreader Skills: Definition, Example And How To Improve

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 1 July 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Proofreaders are professionals who make edits to written content and ensure the content is free from grammatical, typographical and factual errors. When applying for an editing or writing-based position, employers prefer candidates with advanced proofreading skills. If you have an interest in becoming a proofreader, learning more about these skills can help you decide if it is the right career choice and help you during your job search. In this article, we explain why proofreader skills are important, list a few examples, provide steps to improve these skills and explore ways to highlight them during the hiring process.

Importance Of Proofreader Skills

Proofreader skills are important because it helps a proofreader identify and fix grammatical and factual errors before a document reaches the readers. These skills eliminate punctuation, grammar, spelling and formatting issues while ensuring adherence to the style guide. Employers often prefer a proofreader who can work with a client's style guide and verify that all syntax and sentence structures are correct.

Using proofreading skills, these professionals verify there are no formatting errors. They check whether the layout matches the client's requirement and ensure there is no spacing issue in the content. A proofreader requires soft and technical skills to excel in their job role. Soft skills can be attention to detail, communication and teamwork, while hard skills include fact-checking and editing.

Related: Copyediting Vs. Proofreading: A Comparative Analysis

Examples Of Proofreader Skills

Here are some proofreading skills that are desirable for a successful career:

Writing and editing

Having a thorough understanding of the writing and grammar rules and style guides is essential for proofreading content. When reviewing a copy, you use your writing skills to improve the overall clarity or rewrite certain content sections. As you might markup documents you proofread, knowing how to use editing marks like carats, new paragraph indicators and deletion marks can help you proofread the document. Editing skills can even include checking whether the article meets the company's goals.

Computer efficiency

Another important proofreading skill which employers look for in candidates is computer efficiency. Editing on different platforms and using different tools is essential for a successful career. Using different proofreading and editing software can help you remove minor mistakes from the content. For instance, you might use an editing tool and provide the edited version in a certain file format based on the employer's requirement.

Fact-checking

Proofreaders are also responsible for fact-checking any copy they are proofreading. Apart from checking the document for grammatical mistakes, you check the copy for factual errors. This means checking that the details mentioned by the writers are accurate and up-to-date. You might check various sources to ensure the content information is correct and comes from reliable sources.

Teamwork skills

Having excellent teamwork skills helps you complete assignments on time and with accuracy. Often, proofreaders are a part of a larger team, so the ability to collaborate and manage conflict is essential for working as a proofreader. The ability to accept criticism and feedback from team members can help you work with project managers, editors and writers.

Related: Examples Of Teamwork Skills (And How To Improve Them)

Communication skills

Communication skills help proofreaders work effectively with writers and editors during the proofreading process. Using their communication skills, these professionals understand the style guideline and suggest changes in the content structure. Apart from requiring excellent verbal and written communication skills, employers prefer candidates who can actively listen to others. This helps them understand a writer's viewpoint and ensure a copy is free from factual and grammatical mistakes.

Related: Communication Skills: Definitions And Examples

Comprehension and resourcefulness

The ability to comprehend the content you are proofreading is important for delivering work as per the client's vision and expectations. Also, employers prefer resourceful proofreaders because it helps them complete their job duties. For instance, you might require research skills to fact-check the content piece you are proofreading. Similarly, you might research spelling variation depending upon the style guide.

Attention to details

Employers expect a proofreader to identify small grammatical mistakes like punctuation and spelling errors during the proofreading phase. Also, employers prefer proofreaders who can switch between different writing styles depending on the job. For instance, different writing styles have different grammar requirements. Some clients might prefer oxford commas, while others might not prefer them.

How To Improve Your Proofreading Skills

Use the following steps to improve your proofreading skills:

1. Choose one skill at a time

Before choosing a skill to improve, identify your reasons for choosing it. If you want to enhance your proofreading skills, it might be helpful to choose one skill to improve. For instance, you can focus first on improving your sentence structure, word choice, spelling and punctuation. You might focus on improving your soft skills, like communication and interpersonal skills. If you are unsure about the skill to improve, ask your manager, friends or colleagues.

2. Find relevant resources

There are various online and offline resources available that can help in improving your editing and writing skills. You can enroll in editing and writing courses to increase your expertise in proofreading articles. If you are trying to enhance your soft skills like organisation, read relevant books or articles. You can even watch video tutorials or listen to podcasts to improve your skill set.

3. Create a goal for every skill

To improve your proofreading skill, create a goal to improve them. Focus on creating SMART goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely. For instance, you can set a goal to proofread three-four pages of articles every day or complete an editing or proofreading course in three weeks. To track your goals, create a calendar to plan each goal.

Related: SMART Goals: Definition And Examples

4. Practice consistently

To further improve your skills, practice them consistently to improve them. If you want to improve your editing skill, practice proofreading skills by asking a family member or colleague to write a paragraph that you can edit. If you are trying to enhance your communication skills, find opportunities to interact and communicate with others and start a conversation with your colleagues or friends.

5. Track your progress

When improving your skill, track your progress to know the results of your improvement. Notice how your editing and proofreading skills have changed since you last improved. Tracking your progress can help you recognise your achievements and celebrate your success. This helps you remain motivated at the workplace and continue working toward your career goals.

Proofreading Skills In The Workplace

Here are some ways using which you can display your proofreading skills in the workplace:

  • Highlight your writing skills: In your workplace, show your writing and proofreading skills by sending grammatically correct and error-free emails and office messages.

  • Use editing or proofreading tools. Many proofreading and editing tools allow you to find minor mistakes. Using them with your proofreading skills ensures you remove every grammatical and punctuation error from the content.

  • Keep a list of common mistakes. When proofreading any writing material, list common mistakes writers make. This allows you to identify and remove errors.

  • Read the document aloud. Reading the writing pieces loud can help you identify grammatical and parallelism errors.

How To Highlight Your Proofreading Skills

Highlighting your proofreading skills on your cover letter, resume and during the job interview can help a hiring manager assess your abilities. Showcasing these skills can help you show why you are a good fit for a job role:

1. Highlight them on your resume and cover letter

When applying for a proofreading job, it is essential to ensure your resume and cover letter are free from error. Submitting an error-free resume can give hiring managers an example of your proofreading and editing skills. You can mention these skills in the skills or experience section on your resume. For instance, if you have experience proofreading legal articles, mention it on your resume and cover letter to make it more interesting. Also, when mentioning these skills on your resume and cover letter, review the job description and include keywords from it to show that you have read the job description.

2. Discuss them during the job interview

Many employers prefer hiring candidates who are passionate about their work. Bring your portfolio to show your proofreading skills when coming for the interview. Also, learn the company's editorial style by reading their blogs and articles to answer questions confidently in the interview. Often, employers prefer candidates who can constantly strive to improve their skills. Discuss how you constantly strive to improve your skills. You can even prepare for commonly asked interview questions to answer confidently in the interview.

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