Proofreading Service

Proofreading Rates:

Native English texts: £9 per 1,000 words
English as a Second Language (ESL): £11 per 1,000 words
Formatting: Add £1.50 per 1000 words

Payment: Via PayPal and 100% in advance
Free samples: Extracts of 500-1000 words can be proofread as samples by arrangement

Turnaround times will be arranged with the client. For particularly large documents (80,000+ words) I may, particularly if I’m interested in the subject, be willing to negotiate on the fee.

Preferred subject areas:

My particular areas of interest are within the Humanities, though I can certainly proofread Science material. Areas I prefer to avoid are Law, Mathematics and Engineering. I will politely decline any material advocating any political parties, religions or other causes.


If I am too busy to work on your project I can recommend three other individuals with relevant experience and qualifications who have varied self-employed portfolios, including proofreading, and who may be available. Failing that, I can recommend an international proofreading agency with high standards.



What Proofreading Can Offer You

What is proofreading?

Some people think using a computer’s spell-checker facility sorts the whole thing out. In many cases a spell-checker will advocate spellings that are NOT consistent with the Oxford English Dictionary, the ultimate arbiter of correct spelling. One example is the word ‘proofreader’ itself. MS Word’s spell-checker will tell you it should be ‘proof-reader’ or ‘proof reader’; the OED will tell you it is one word.

There is, though, much more to proofreading than fixing a few typos.

‘Fixing’ an academic text includes the following:
  • correcting typographical errors (misspelt words);
  • adding missing words;
  • applying consistency throughout (e.g. with capitalisation and punctuation);
  • ensuring that abbreviations/acronyms are explained on their first usage;
  • ensuring that the appropriate version of ‘Academic English’ is used throughout (i.e. British, American or Australian  Academic English);
  • addressing ambiguities (where a sentence or phrase may be read more than one way);
  • removing repetition (where material may appear more than once in the text);
  • removing redundancy (where a sentence may include two phrases saying basically the same thing);
  • removing inaccurate words (where an author has assumed a word to have a meaning that it does not have);
  • applying concision (editing/splitting rambling or overly complex sentences);
  • ensuring clarity (e.g. addressing obscure or mixed metaphors);
  • ensuring that the writing style is appropriate for the audience (e.g. in academic texts, removing the first person, colloquialisms and slang, and also removing pseudo-academic gibberish);
  • ensuring that the required referencing style throughout is adhered to (e.g. Harvard, APA, Chicago, etc.)


Academic clients will generally be aware of what presentational specifications their work needs to satisfy: font, font size, spacing, margins, heading style, dynamically linked table of contents and tables of figures, etc. All of these requirements can be met.

Why do you need proofreading?

Anyone involved in writing needs a third party to proof their work. No matter how strong one’s language skills, we can all become so familiar with a piece of text that we can no longer ‘see’ the mistakes, notice the omissions, or realise where a reader may find ambiguity.

I always hire other proofreaders for my own work. For my most recent book, a 250,000-word tome on a particular strand of Irish traditional music, I hired Sarah McQuaid, a former trade magazine editor with the added advantage of some knowledge of the subject and of Irish-language nomenclature. It was money well spent, and the book had greater clarity and consistency as a result.

Whether writing professionally for a general readership, writing in an academic context for examiners or colleagues, or writing in a business context for colleagues or customers, you will have a target audience. Your goal is to communicate your ideas, your research, your message and your personal contribution in a clear, concise and credible way, free of all avoidable obstacles and in a style appropriate to the context. My proofreading of your work can remove those obstacles and ensure that style.

Why should you hire Colin Harper?

When I work on a text, that work also includes comment balloons offering editorial suggestions, if necessary, and pointing out problem areas where, for example, you might be asked to double check a quotation or bolster an argument. I will typically also include an element of fact-checking, although I don’t put a price on this nor offer it as a comprehensive service. Nevertheless, if I am proofing a text, I will generally double check as a matter of course the official titles of institutions mentioned, the correct titles and dates of laws or reports mentioned and suchlike. Also, if other things presented as ‘facts’ strike me as odd I will fix them (if I know them to be wrong) or point them out for the writer to investigate further. I will typically double check a few bibliography references too, but I would expect clients to have the essential bibliographical data, depending on referencing style, at least there in the document to be worked with.


All communication can be carried out by email. Work should be sent as a Word document or similar. All clients should have Microsoft Office software. What I will send back to a client by email are two documents:

  1. A basic version of the proofread/edited text, with comment balloons visible (discussing why changes were made, giving editorial advice, or pointing out where a sentence or phrase may have been too problematic to understand);
  2. A ‘track changes’ document, showing in red font all the added text and deleted text. With this track changes document, the client will be able to ‘accept’ or ‘reject’ every change, one by one. This is a very simple process and involves the ‘Accept’ and ‘Reject’ buttons within the ‘Review’ tab at the top of the screen in MS Office.