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You Might Be a Proofreader If … and 4 Signs You’re a Great One!


Updated: June 24, 2015

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  1. I was in 11th grade. My friend Nicole gave me her economics paper to proofread and edit. I was hooked! It was about 11th grade when I realized I enjoyed making things sound good (or improving them) on paper.

    1. I never had an “ah-ha” moment, but you will enjoy a recent “ha-ha” moment my kids and I had. We were driving down the road and one of the local fast food joints had written on their sign (with no punctuation whatsoever): “FLY IN CHEESEBURGERS $___” My kids and I still laugh when we wonder just how many of those fly-infested cheeseburgers they sold.

  2. I was 4 years old. I read the newspaper, and I’d sit at the breakfast table and tell my parents what mistakes I’d found that day. I am one of those people who sees the mistakes in signs, magazines, newspapers that no one else sees. I’d love to make a career of proofreading!

      1. I’m a full-time working 47-year-old mom to two boys – time and energy! LOL But it might be better than my current full-time gig, so I need to get past the excuses and get cracking. I’ve only recently found your site. We’re slow at work today, so I think I’ll spend some time reading. 🙂

        1. You’d be perfect!!! And with two boys, this could become your main source of income, which frees up more time. (I say that, but I also work a full-time-plus job that has me completely burnt out–chronic stress and fatigue–and have a busy life outside of work. It’s taking me a while to get through the course, but I know if I keep plugging away at it, I’ll get there.)

          Best of luck!

          1. Christa’s a rockstar!!! You DO have lifetime access, too — but trust me, as soon as you see the near-constant “I got a client!!” and “I made $X this month!” updates in the Facebook group, you’ll want to MAKE TIME to get it done, even if it takes you longer than you want. It’s so worth it.

          2. oodelally3, thanks for the encouragement! I’m looking at ways to make it happen, to at least get the jump start course in the near future. I already know I can proofread, so it would be a matter of tweaking the skills I have and learning how to make them work in a particular niche, and learning how to market myself and network to bring in clients. It would be AWESOME to make this my full-time source of income – I’d love it, and my kids would, too!

  3. My Master’s degree research was a multi-species fieldwork study. Identifying bird vocalizations correctly was 80% of my data set. However, the study was not during breeding season, when they typically sing & call in distinctive, species-specific ways. The rest of the year they make chips & twitters that sound maddingly alike, with random distinctive vocalizations thrown in. I waded through several hundred hours of field recordings, & wrote out phonetically what I was hearing. I then compared it to a written phonetic database of bird songs & calls. I waded through 4 field seasons & over 60 species in this way. It literally have me a nervous breakdown, but I did it. I learned that if I take the time to train myself, I can zero in on *any* detail set.
    PS- it took 3 years to set aside, but I finally love birding again. Even birding by ear.
    PPS- signed up for the course- can’t wait to start!

    1. FASCINATING!! I don’t think I’ve ever heard of that type of work. But you are totally right, I’ll bet that prepared you for just about anything. Welcome aboard 😀

  4. I do- thanks! I’m finishing a project this week & then I’ll dive in. I wanted to clear out some mental space first. 🙂 I’m a contract academic & my contract was the first to go for the upcoming school year…, this course is a life-saver for us.

    1. Sandra, you are my people! I find mistakes in the closed captioning in movies, while we’re watching shows on Netflix, looking at TVs in public places….

      1. I am with you ladies!! Those typos just “jump out at me” everywhere I go!! And closed captioning is the worst!!!

    2. UGH. Or subtitles. Drives me nuts when they leave out proper punctuation!!! “I love you too” needs a freaking comma!!!!

      This is actually part of the workflow at my job. I work at Deluxe Media…we’ve been around for 100 years. Similar to Technicolor, the rivals that we’ve recently absorbed. 😉 You have undoubtedly seen our logo at the end of a ton of movies. (Look for a red circle with “Deluxe” in the middle!)

      I’m in post-production broadcast; I’m a scripting editor and account coordinator. The first part entails watching a lot of TV and some films before they air or are released. I won’t mention which shows (signed an NDA), but we have some major channels, as well as a couple of major streaming companies. (*ahem*) What I do is proof the dialogue, on-screen text, narrative titles, etc., so that everything is exactly as it’s spoken or written (including “um, uh” and all that). I annotate things such as idioms, slang, historical references (depending on the show) in preparation for dubbing or subtitling in foreign markets.

      It’s a pretty great gig, but I’ve been go-go-go for so long, that I’m completely burnt out (as I mentioned in a previous comment). I don’t have the time or energy to devote to acting or singing, and I don’t have the extra money to travel anymore. I need to pay down my debt and get my life back. Work on my anxiety and insomnia and chronic stress and fatigue.

      PA should help with that a lot–once I finish the course. It’s slooooow-going, unfortunately, but I’ll get there. 🙂

      Oh! And the whole point of explaining my job was to tell you that we have a subtitling department, as well as a CC department. Sounds like a nightmare, what they do, but I at least want to march in and add commas. 😉

  5. i was working as a desk clerk in my first real job (benefits like health insurance, sick days, and vacation, instead of free meals!). I could spot the errors on letters that the secretary placed on the boss’s desk….upside down!

  6. I used to read the newspapers and colour them in as a child. I found errors in them and pointed them out, also on cereal boxes! My daughter is the same. She corrects her teachers (politely!) and they look it up to find out she’s right. Love it!

  7. I took my first job out of college at a magazine after getting a graphic design degree and they didn’t need an artist they needed a full time proofreader. So they handed me a magazine full of mistakes they put there on purpose and timed me on how long I took to find them all. I found every mistake in less than 5 minutes which they said was an absolute record nobody else they had interviewed even found all the mistakes and most took more than a half hour to find what they did. I was hired on the spot and have worked as a proofreader and copy editor for 60 different publications my whole life. And funny thing was I never set out to become an editor. Lol but now I want to start my own business doing it from home I’m tired of working so hard making other people money! I don’t have enough money for your course Caitlyn as I am a single mom of two that works two jobs full time just to make ends meet and am still on some assistance and struggling. I need a third job just to keep food on my table. I’m hoping if I am figure out how to get in touch with court reporters I can make enough doing those that I can quit my second job at least.

    1. Hey Summer! I have to be honest and tell you that getting in touch with court reporters would not be a good idea without knowing exactly how to proofread transcripts — I totally believe you’re an amazing proofreader, but proofreading transcripts is SO different from traditional proofreading, and a lack of training would be very obvious to reporters and agencies. Have you heard about our Jumpstart program? It will allow you to at least get started without paying the full fee until you’re able to — you’ll be able to chat with other students, too, and get their input on how they saved for the course. We have MANY, MANY students who surpassed HUGE obstacles and have completely turned their lives around. I even have a student living in a van who is taking the course! https://proofreadanywhere.com/do-you-offer-payment-plans/

    2. I’m going to second Caitlin’s comment, Summer. This is a different animal than proofreading academically. I have done that for years and have now switched gears to transcripts. Yes, it is verbatim, and that is more of a challenge than you would think. CRs do know if you KNOW and will “fire” you quickly (yup, happened to me). It’s a good gig once you figure it out. I’ve been doing it about three months now and am finally pretty comfortable after my comeuppance 🙂

  8. Several years ago one of the local grocery stores installed signage to designate a handful of parking spaces for pregnant and brand new moms. The signs read, “Expected Mother Parking Only”.

    This drove me absolutely nuts!! I literally, physically cringed EVERY time I saw those signs. Eventually, the store had the signs replaced with properly worded ones. I felt a huge sense of relief when that happened.

    Weirdo, right?

      1. After flinching and cringing, I would then start ticking off, in my head, the plethora of things mothers are “expected” to be or do. With that thought came, “We, mothers, should all be allowed to park there being so much is expected of us”.

        Actually, probably 2/3 of the parking spaces should have been designated as “Expected Mother” parking.

        I also had to take a picture of the sign, and send it to all my word-need friends. 😉

    1. Oh, girl, I’d have been compelled to go tell the management at the store that their signs were wrong. LOL That’s just torture, seeing mistakes like that regularly.

  9. My friends will often ask me to edit their writing. I have one friend who is in college and *I’ve* gotten A’s on THREE of her papers! LOL ;o)

  10. I didn’t have a specific moment when I knew was a good proofreader, but I’ve noticed (and yearned to correct) mistakes at least since college, and misused apostrophes are my biggest pet peeve in the world. Geez, they’re the Smiths, not the Smith’s!

    1. Hahaha! Yes Kimhend. Misused apostrophes are the worst! And why are grown people still misusing they’re/their/there. I mean, c’mon!

  11. I’m so glad I found your website! I’ve never been very creative but enjoy proof reading papers. I haven’t done it professionally but I have 6 children, so by the time their done with their schooling I will be. 🙂
    I’m so glad you’re offering a starter course. I’ve been looking for something to do while I stay at home when my kids are in school.

  12. I used to read the dictionary when I was a kid, to my mother’s bewilderment. Actually, I would read everything I could get my hands on. It’s always bothered me to find mistakes in printed material!! I mean, don’t they have proofreaders, for crying out loud?? The ebooks for Kindle and Nook, etc., always have horrible errors everywhere! I even cringe when the audio book readers mispronounce words… It’s tragic. But at least now I have an outlet

    1. I’ve always wished that I could have some kind of giant white-out pen or eraser for extra apostrophes on signs. Argh!
      “Tomato’s 1.99!” Yikes, that hurts my eyes.

  13. Hi, Caitlyn! I think I can find mistakes if I’m looking for them, but more I’m a stickler for details. Sometimes I get lost in the details. I am taking the course and It’s slow going because I still have a full time job. But I can just picture myself doing this even if it’s part-time to begin with. Can’t wait to graduate.

  14. I don’t remember how old I was but I am a reader and I find errors in every book I read. I have wanted to work from home as long as I can remember. When I saw this class I thought, cool, something I love doing and making money from home. I knew I could be a eagle eye proofreader.
    Thanks Caitlin for creating the course and sharing it with others.

  15. I have always loved to read and received great comments on my writing style in college. I often proofread for random people and for random reasons, and one of the last times we swapped things to edit, I covered a paper in red and sent it back only to find out we were editing for ideas, not everything. I felt really bad. Guess I need an outlet!

  16. I’ve been reading everything since I was 2 years old – books, cereal boxes, billboards, anything with print fascinates me. I too enjoyed browsing the dictionary.

    After graduating with honors in communication, I didn’t know what to do, so I took the LSAT, GRE, and GMAT. I scored in the 96th and 97th percentile on the verbal section for two of those graduate school tests (I can’t remember which ones — you’d think I’d remember a thing like that, but I don’t).

    As a receptionist in my first office job, in a direct marketing agency, I noticed lots of errors in the written materials that I came across and corrected them, which was appreciated by my boss/the owner, who must have been dyslexic. When I worked in bookstores, I naturally chose to work on instructional materials for the store, writing and formatting them. Later, I worked as a word processor for an engineering firm and found that they liked when I corrected their errors. The partners encouraged me to correct the writing of all these engineers with graduate degrees from Ivy League schools! Then I went to work as a word processor for a law firm. I did a lot of very precise formatting, maintained consistency, and marked the errors I saw, and one of the lawyers who people say is hard to please was very impressed. So I think I have a knack for correcting writing and formatting.

    Initially, I had been an interior design major, but I wasn’t doing well and changed out of my major to communication, which was interesting, but didn’t lead to work in a specific industry. Then I started classes for an MBA in computer information systems, but I got engaged and planned to move to a different state, so I dropped the program. I wasn’t really enjoying it anyway. Then I got a certificate in Oracle Database Development and Design, but barely squeaked by and, even though I graduated, decided that I hate programming and didn’t want to do it. So I’ve concluded that working toward a career that pays well but doesn’t match my natural aptitude doesn’t work for me. When I read about Proofread Anywhere in the “Money Saving Mom” email I receive I thought it sounded perfect! So I’m hoping this will be a great fit, that it will allow me to have a flexible schedule when needed for my kids, and it will help us with our budget.

  17. I can’t really say I had an “aha” moment, just seemed to have always been there. In middle school I use to read classmate’s essays and offer to help them improve sentence structure and grammar. And since then it has never stopped. I really really wanted to major in English in undergrad, but was too afraid that I couldn’t really get a job with that degree, other than teaching, so I majored in Information Systems. So I obtained my BS in Information Systems but decided a computer career really wasn’t for me, so I started researching careers I could work if I obtained my Masters in English. That itch to do something with grammar was still a part of me. But I still didn’t go that route. I obtained my Masters in Accounting (bore me, why did I do that?) And currently, I am an Auditor, but I absolutely HATE it. I hate working for someone else. I hate the office politics. I hate the actual act of auditing. I am just so unhappy. I make more than decent money, but I am not fulfilled or satisfied. I really want to proofread and edit, like all the time.

    And yes, I notice errors EVERYWHERE as I’m driving around. From major chain stores to mom and pop store fronts, I see grammar errors. It’s like I’m the “grammar whisperer” or something. LOL.

  18. Proofreader? You betcha, by golly! Grammarian? Not so much…but that’s because my immediate family moved to this beautiful country from Sweden when I was a toddler, we spoke our mother tongue at home, and the sentences are structured differently. I still *do* edit and have done so successfully in the corporate world for many years. It just takes me a bit longer to get the words in the right order because I still find myself thinking in Swedish.

    Proofreading is preferable because the more time goes by, the more uncomfortable I feel telling people, “You should have said this, not that,” and with proofreading I can retain the gist of what clients are saying while leaving their voice inflections and personal expressions intact.

    Thus far in the course (I’m halfway through the first set) I still find it difficult to keep names and dates together. Any trick for helping me remember, or does it just take time?

    Thanks for this, Caitlyn! Enjoy the daily room service!

  19. I’ve always loved words and had a good feel for spelling, which I always attiributed to reading a lot when I was young. I didn’t realize that I was strange until I was taking a Writing 121 class my senior year of high school and we had “workshops” for every paper that we wrote where we would get together in small groups and peer-edit each other’s papers. After a few weeks, people that had never spoken to me after 12 years of school together were stepping on each other to be in my editing group. It wasn’t until I found Caitlin’s course that I ever considered that I could actually create a career out of it though! I just thought it was a way to pretend I was popular for a few minutes. 😛 I’m moving slowly through the course, as I’m currently working two jobs with really weird hours, but I’m excited about the possibliities!

  20. I can relate to all those points, and more! How many times did my teenage son roll his eyes when I corrected his grammar? How much longer does it take to write a text because I won’t use the shortened version of words…k? I’m currently working on my paralegal certification with eyes on law school, but am no spring chicken. Perhaps this course might be another way to go? Seriously considering it!

    1. Cynthia, I’m with you on the no text speak. My older son is nearly 13, and I’ve told him that when he gets a phone of his own, if he sends me anything written in text speak, I will take his phone away until he learns to text properly. LOL Sounds like you and I are in similar situations, although I’m going backward – I did law school first, practiced for a while, took a left turn, ended up doing paralegal work, and I’m now working for a state agency as a court reporter. I’m no spring chicken, either, but you know what? It’s never too late to make a change. 🙂

  21. I have always loved to spot errors in signs, menus, etc., I once worked for a law firm, as one of the little people, and all the attorneys were having a meeting and discussing some of the topics in the monthly newsletter. Well, I could not believe how many misspelled words and punctuation errors I found. I brought it up to my boss and she told me that several attorneys proofread the newsletter prior to printing. Really? LOL

  22. I’ve always been great with the English language, and I’ve always had a knack for finding mistakes. I used to circle them in text books in school, or screenshot my homeschooling program and send the annotated versions to my online teachers as a kid. I love fixing mistakes! It satisfies the perfectionist in me. 🙂

  23. I always thought I was a weirdo for finding errors in school textbooks, novels, menus, marketing materials, etc… I think I found my people lol!

  24. How about this from my son’s 5th grade Language Arts teacher: “I can’t emphasize how vital good reading skills are to success in school and in the workforce later in life.” Well, if he can’t his letter proves the point! He then tells us parents to be “on the lookup” for important papers that will be sent home. (Yes, he is a native speaker of English.) And finally, we are to sign and return a form that states: “I have read and understand the information contained tin he paper titled Mr. Mayor Introductory Letter.”

    1. LOL. How fun… I have a feeling there’s a reason they changed the name of the class to “language arts” instead of “English” all those years ago! I wrote so many poems and did so much junk that had nothing to do with learning the actual language. It was ALL art!

      1. I’m picking up on a subtle lesson here. English is capitalized but not language arts. In Mr. Mason’s letter he has also capitalized Social Studies. It’s funny, if I saw the words “I am your Math teacher,” my instinct would be to change it to “math.” But with “Language Arts” and “Social Studies” (as opposed to history), it does not immediately strike me as wrong. I would like to really know and not just trust my instincts. Do you think it would be worth the effort to take a proofreading certification class? Or can I learn by doing, looking up everything I am uncertain about as I go along?

  25. So… you know you might be a proofreader if you are particularly tickled by errors that contain their own built-in irony, such as this headline: “Medical records have flasehoods.” You share it with someone, say at the laundromat, and that person admits to the humor in it with a smile but will forget about it within a minute or two while you go home to post a comment on a proofreading website. Further, this one error will be committed to your long-term memory in order to share at parties in the future.

  26. When I was in kindergarten, I corrected my teacher when she told another student that he “did good.” “It’s you did WELL,” I emphasized. She didn’t look like she appreciated the knowledge, but man, did I feel on top of the world. 🙂

    Every time I see a grammatical error that I KNOW will benefit from my red pen, that lovely burst of adrenaline comes right back.

  27. I was a spelling bee for my elder sister when i was like 10 yrs old. She always screwed up spellings in her exams. Also my mom would tell everyone that i am good at reading sign boards on the roads which usually people miss while driving.
    I still do that. Does that mean i am cut for proofreading?

    1. Hi, Trupti!

      Possibly! Keep in mind that proofreading goes beyond spelling; it involves mastering excellent grammar and punctuation. If you feel that you can dedicate yourself to mastering these skills, then it’s definitely possible!

  28. I have always been the ‘go-to’ gal for proofreading a resume, or letter, or anything that required a 2nd eye before turning it in; and I always loved doing it!! I am also that ‘person’ who sees typos in everything and always raise my eyebrow and think, “why didn’t somebody catch this before it went to print?” The more I dig into everything there is to read on your website, and FB, and every word in the Intro Course, I know this is for me!! But…….there is a piece of me that remains skeptical. What I do find different from ‘other businesses or courses’ is your honesty! Not once have you ever said it would be easy; one must actually do the work! Very refreshing to hear how it really is and it is not for everybody!

    1. Hi, Kay!

      Yes, this course does take a lot of hard work. As a graduate who was initially VERY skeptical, I can say that I am super glad I took the course! You can really appreciate Caitlin’s honest and straight-up approach to her content when you enroll. She doesn’t mess around. This is NOT a “get rich quick” thing; you have to work HARD! But if you do, you will reap the benefits. 🙂

  29. I was talking with the Communications Director when new signs were delivered to her office. As the deliveryman leaned them against the wall, I stopped talking. Sally rolled her eyes and just said, “Seriously?! Where???” Yep, a huge (to me) error right in the middle of the text (plus a missing end-quote on another).

  30. I’m beginning to think 90% of the U.S. is illiterate. I’ve stopped counting the number of mistakes I see in newspapers, magazines, and on billboards! I wish I could think of some now, but my mind is blank.

    Other C-D posters have some gems, like this one:

    “Walla” instead of “voila”. I did a double take when I first saw this.

    1. Hi Maggie.. Walla is a word in Hebrew fo expressions like disbelief or surprise or discomfort.. But i doubt if we can use it in english. Especially in place of Voila..

      1. No we can’t use Walla in place of Voila.

        Of course, the word voila properly pronounced in French sounds a bit like “vwalla”, but with the “v” in front pronounced softly, almost like an “f”. Being stupid Americans though, they can’t pronounce anything which doesn’t sound 100% English (not that they can pronounce English either) so in their incredibly lazy way, they don’t even try to pronounce it correctly.

        Walla is a word used by retarded Americans who don’t know any foreign languages and barely know their own. The correct word they are looking for is “voila”, which loosely translates as “here it is”, “there you go”, or similar meanings.

  31. The docs won’t send out referral letters or imaging reports without without first asking me to proofread and make any necessary changes. I then print it they sign it and and I send it, they don’t even check to make sure I didn’t throw in a monkey joke or something!

  32. Found this article, read it, and one more time understood that I am more into writing than proofreading. I started as proofreader (thought it is easier – how wrong I was!). But a few months later I understood that its not the way I imagined it would be. Now I started my own blog (EssayGoddess) and feel happy for doing what I truly love.
    PS. But life would be much easier if I was both a writer and a proofreader))

  33. You might be a proofreader if…you find mistakes in job postings and typing tests!

    Several years ago, I was at a placement agency and they gave me the single-spaced laminated document I was to type into the system. I glanced at it and asked if I should include the double space in the middle of a sentence, even though it was incorrect. They didn’t even know it was there (it was towards the end of the document – you’d have to be an excellent typist to get that far)!

    Recently, I applied for a job even though there was a typo in the posting. I really wanted to point it out but didn’t. Maybe I should have – I didn’t even get an interview. This was really surprising to me, but I quickly realized it was all part of the plan to get me to take this course!

    I’m also in the camp of finding errors in books without trying. I often want to message blog writers to alert them of errors so they can look more professional. I proofread my texts. I can’t wait to get started!

  34. You might be a future proofreader if…

    You have actively unfollowed companies on Facebook due to their continuous sharing of memes with BLATANT errors!

    You can’t help but clench your teeth when you see news stations, newspapers, and other major publications share posts, Tweets, or memes with easy to catch errors.

    I started working as an Independent Contractor for an International Patent and Trademark Attorney in the role of Project Manager, Paralegal, and now Office Manager. One day, he handed me his resume and a red pen. (I had insisted on the red pen, it makes a bigger statement!) With a rather smug look of confidence, he challenged me to find any errors. Much to his dismay, I found several within a few minutes. He told me that no one had found those errors in the three years since this resume had been written. (This goes back to your comments regarding autopilot and how anyone can slip into this state if not diligent!)

    I too, was the student all the other kids would ask to have proofread their papers. I had no idea this was an actual field until I came across your article. I had been led to believe the only thing that came close was an Editor for magazines and newspapers. I may not be able to afford your course yet, but I will be saving up for it every day until I can! The idea that I can turn a hidden passion of mine into an actual career that I can do anywhere, at anytime, regardless of health concerns that prevent me from working a ‘normal’ job, has lifted my spirits more than I can possibly express! Thank you!

  35. I knew I might want to be a proofreader when I would read paperback books and mark mistakes with a pencil. Now I have an e-reader and it irritates me not to be able to mark what I read. I first knew I was a proofreader when I worked in a law firm and had to send documents to be reviewed by a proofreader. I would always call if I didn't understand a proofreading mark or even ahead of time when something didn't sound quite right. I learned so much from them. They were my heroes.

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