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Proof readers are typically employed by newspaper, magazine, journal and book publishing companies to read and correct all written material, ensuring that it is correct in terms of spelling, grammar and coherence.
Copy editors perform a similar role, only they will concentrate more on style, tone consistency and factual accuracy of the written material than on technical areas such as spelling and punctuation. In many cases the two roles will be filled by one person.
Proof readers often work on a freelance basis. They will usually be sent all copy to be read via email and will have to keep track of all amendments that have been made in order that their employer can see, and in some cases query, any amendments made by the proof reader or copy editor.
Proof readers and copy editors working for newspapers will often work under more pressure than those employed by magazine publishers as the production time is considerably shorter. Many magazine and journal publishers will not employ proof readers as the work can be done by staff working in-house, such as an editorial assistant.
They will often work with design and illustration teams in order to negotiate available space for copy and images and, in some cases, they will need to decide what parts of a text can be omitted. • When correcting a text, a proof reader will use a universal set of codes and symbols to highlight different types of mistake. The key to the symbols can be found in most good dictionaries. • Proof readers and copy editors will often have to spend long periods reading and working irregular and unsociable hours in order to complete a project before it is due to go to print.
Freelance proof readers are likely to work from home and (for some but not all) this is one of the perks of the job.
As with all freelance jobs, a proof reader needs to ensure that their services are advertised and easy to find. Positive client testimonials will also boost potential work.