Easy steps to learn how to become a proofreader
So, you have no formal training, but you’re curious about how to become a proofreader because you have seen proofreading jobs that you think fit your skills and expertise well. If you paid attention in your high school English classes, you already have the basics. You know all about correct spelling, punctuation, grammar, and capitalization. But, there is much more to proofreading than the basics, and that’s where specialized classes and training come in.
How to become a proofreader
One way to learn how to become a proofreader is to search your public library for books on proofreading. If there is a particular field that interests you (e.g., science), you might contact the larger institutions in that field and ask them to recommend the training or qualifications they look for in job applicants. If your goal is to work directly with writers or an advertising agency, talk to people in those fields. It is always beneficial to research proofreading by consulting the end user.
Another path to becoming a proofreader is taking online proofreading courses. These courses will teach you how to apply the correct style, formatting, and layout to a document. A good proofreading course will teach you about margins, lists, bullets, headlines, headings, subheadings, captions, vocabulary, and alphabetized copy.
When you become a proofreader, you will deal with more than just words—you will also have to examine numerical charts, tables, and graphs. In addition, if you proofread online, you will need to become familiar with Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Adobe Acrobat, and LaTeX.
Becoming a proofreader also involves learning a variety of stylebooks and formats, including the Associated Press Stylebook, The Chicago Manual of Style (often called Chicago or CMOS), the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (often called APA), the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers (MLA is the Modern Language Association), and A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations (often simply called Turabian, after the author who composed the guide).
Why take a proofreading course?
In the process of learning how to become a proofreader, it is important to take into account your expertise in a particular field as well as your experience. However, without formal training, you may have difficulty getting a job. Publishers and employers generally like to see evidence of your education, which you will enhance after taking a certified proofreading course.
Which proofreading course should you take?
There are many commercial course options for those seeking to learn how to become a proofreader, but it’s hard to know whom to trust. A good way to embark on discovering how to be a proofreader is to talk to someone who is already a proofreader. If you don’t know anyone personally, you can find proofreaders online, on blogs, on LinkedIn, and on Twitter. Another good source of information is a national organization for editors and proofreaders. Some of these organizations may offer their own proofreading programs. For example, in London, England, the Publishing Training Centre at Book House, an educational charity, offers an online proofreading course. So does the Society for Editors and Proofreaders, also in London.