Proofreading 1: Introduction

Who is this course suitable for?

This course is suitable for beginners contemplating a career as a proofreader and for those who need to proofread as part of their job but have had little formal training.

Course description

'Proofreading' can mean different things in different contexts. This course looks at the role of a proofreader, what kinds of errors they are looking for and how much they should change. It introduces three major ways of working: on PDFs, on paper using BSI marks and using Word. In workshops, each delegate receives a free copy of the BSI's 8-page laminated list of proofreading marks, which normally sells for £20.

What you should know after the course

This course teaches the very basics of proofreading; on its own it does not provide the thorough grounding needed to work as a professional proofreader. Apart from introducing the basics of proofreading, the course is designed as a taster to answer the question ‘Is proofreading for me?'

It is now very clear to me that there is a very large and precise skill set required to be a proofreader and it is not simply a matter of being a relatively literate person. This course has given me a good insight into the complexity.


It was pitched at the right level, scary enough to make you think, but also providing the information and exercises to start to give you confidence.


Availability, prices and upgrade points

  Workshop Online
Price (members)    
Price (non-members)    
SfEP upgrade points 3 3
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Other price discounts are available. See the fees page.

All workshops take place over 1 day. Online courses take between 10 and 35 hours to complete, but you have access to the course materials for between 4 and 6 months (depending on the course).

Workshop syllabus

Length of course: 1 day SfEP upgrade points: 3

The precise syllabus and timings may vary slightly on the day.

Syllabus and timing
Pre-course exercise  
9.30 Introductions and course outline
9.45 The role of a proofreader:
  • what a proofreader is looking for
  • how much a proofreader should intervene
  • when proofreading is done in two contrasting workflows
  • what proofreaders need to know before they start
11.00 Break
11.15 Ways of working I: Proofreading PDFs:
  • how does the client want the job marked up?
  • software and commenting tools
  • benefits of working on screen
12.30 Lunch
1.30 Ways of working II: BSI proofreading marks and proofreading on paper:
  • review of pre-course exercise and clarification of symbols
  • how much to change
  • what else to look out for
  • proofreading tips
  • health and safety issues
3.00 Break
3.15 Ways of working III: Proof-editing in Word
4.30 Next steps:
  • further training
  • reference sources

Online course structure

Time allowed for access: 4 months SfEP upgrade points: 3
Approximate study time needed to complete the course: 10 hours

This is a self-assessed course. You will be assigned a tutor who will be available for up to 1 hour of support (usually by email) but the tutor does not mark any of your work. When you have finished the course you can download and print a certificate that states that you have ‘Completed' the course.

The online course follows the syllabus as described in the screen below.

Introduction to proofreading

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