The book

Cover of the Pocket Book of Proofreading

The Pocket Book of Proofreading is a powerful new guide to earning your own living as a freelance proofreader. You can 'read and make money' (around £22 an hour and £24 and more for copy-editing) after training. No previous experience is required, and you can work full or part time.

The Pocket Book of Proofreading is also an essential book for those occasions where good English is needed – whether you’re writing a letter, an essay, composing a report, or perhaps even preparing a thesis.

It’s a complete professional guide, written by an experienced freelance editor, proofreader and former editor-in-chief of a group of Internet publishing companies.

With this book (see a larger image) you can learn how to become a freelance proofreader; find out how to work from home as a freelance, and how to acquire the necessary proofreading and editing skills, so you can become a successful proofreader. (See also the back cover. The price of the book is now £14.99.)

You can download Learn Freelancing's new Proofreading and Editing Course from this website – a series of exercises (instant file download), including free exercises, notes with all the answers/corrections explained and a Scorecard so you can accurately measure your proofreading skills.

NB: Learn about copy-editing too with comprehensive practical exercises.

Many people have been successful with The Pocket Book of Proofreading and the unique downloadable course – see the testimonials page.

Note: You'll find instances of double (") and single quotes (') on this website. For the sake of consistency, choose one or the other in your proofreading and copy-editing. See The Pocket Book of Proofreading for more details.

Thank you to all those buying the book.

New: The Pocket Book of Proofreading is available as a Kindle edition from



Some previous news from the Home page:

Split infinitives? It's now normal 'to brazenly break the rules'. Analysis of 11.5 milion words of British conversations finds that the use of split infinitives ('to boldly go' instead of 'boldly to go' or 'to go boldly' - putting an adverb between 'to' and the verb) has quadrupled over tne past 20 years. The research by Cambridge University Press and Lancaster University noted a growing tendency to start sentences with 'like' ;-) (The Times, 25 Sept 2017).

Thank you for latest review 37 from PS Ste...el. It's always so much appreciated to get feedback from readers of the proofreading book!


Learn freelance proofreading and copy-editing with Learn Freelancing


Being a competent proofreader or copy-editor means being able to spot small nuances.

Have you ever thought about the difference between marinate and marinade?

Here's a fun guide.

Note:  All Learn Freelancing courses (quite separate from the proofreading book) now include a free practical example explaining on-screen editing. It shows you how this editing skill is used with a job of just over 4 hours earning £93. A fair amount of work is now done onscreen using Word's 'Track Changes'. Funny thing is, proofreading symbols as such are not used! But once you get the hang of it, it's easy to edit onscreen, and quite satisfying too.

ALSO: If buying or downloading the Learn Freelancing Proofreading and Copy-editing Course from the 'How to Order' page, after reading The Pocket Book of Proofreading, please note that you will also receive a 'Welcome email' with two Word attachments with more details about how to get started. However, these are not downloaded automatically but follow from me usually within the hour or at most a few hours.


Thanks to Amy for this just received: she is now working through the Learn Freelancing Proofreading & Copy-editing Course (download version)

'I have purchased your brilliant Pocket Book of Proofreading in both Kindle and physical copy, and to expand my collection of preparatory/practice exercises I am hoping to purchase your downloadable course with the sample essays.'


Ever get stuck pronouncing words? 'Emma Saying' has covered most. For example, in Britain, should we say 'skedule' or 'schedule'?

Well, 'skedule' is American English, and 'schedule' (shed-ule) is how you should say it here - but lots of people get it wrong.


HELP with words. Is it scone to rhyme with con or scone to rhyme with cone?

Other problem pronunciations:


Tzatziki   tsat-si-key              Bouillabaisse  boo-yah-behss

Ceviche   sh-bee-tche            Edamame       ed-a-mar-mei

Acai         ah-sigh-ee              Nicoise            ni-swaz

Quinoa    keen-wah                Prosciutto      pro-shoot-tow

Gnocchi   nyohk-kee               Manchego      man-chay-go

Anise      anis                         Maraschino     ma-ra-skeeno

Crudites  krew-dee-tay          Guacamole     gwah-kah-moh-leh


Image result for scone image

Of course they don't rhyme with stones!


Some helpful answers re recent questions...


Q: Do you still get 'typescripts' to work by mail on or is just about everything done onscreen with track changes?

A: It depends on whether it's a copy-edit or proofread. All copy-edits come to me in Word and I do the edits onscreen with track changes. Proofreads vary - quite a few still come in the post as hard copies, but I also get PDFs too (no Word files for proofreads, at least from publishers). Non-publishers tend to send me PDFs, sometimes Word files - but not hard copy.


   Q: Do you ever have to correct PDFs or is it still Word mainly?

A: As above - always seems to be Word if it's a copy-edit, but PDFs for proofreads.


Q: If you had to correct or add changes to a PDF are there any free versions or do you still need a 'professional' one?

A: I use the free one - haven't been able to afford the professional version and not sure if I need it, but clients seem happy with what I'm able to do using the free version so I've not seen the point of paying for it. I generally use comments tools to add instructions, or annotation tools to show insertions / deletions etc. It's a bit clunky I think but seems to do the job. I use the free version of Adobe Reader but I think there are others too. (Thanks to Liz of Nature Edit for these replies.)

NEW: A query: 'What's the best software to use if you have graduated from working with paper proofs to working onscreen?' Thanks to Liz for the answer.


I usually use Word for copy-editing and Acrobat for proofreading, though I also sometimes proofread in Word - generally only for non-publisher clients though. To be honest though, most publishers still send me paper proofs!

But again, depends on what this person is trying to do and who the clients are - presumably it would depend on what the client sends and on what they want (e.g. if they send a PDF, I'd proofread it in Acrobat or another PDF reader)...


 Thanks also to US readers, and further afield in Canada and Europe, for your interest in The Pocket Book of Proofreading.



Report from The Times (Monday 25 July): 'Latin abbreviations are to be barred from government websites because they may confuse people whose first language is not English.' Eventually, all Latin abbreviations will be edited out. Facing the purge are e.g., exempli gratia (for example), i.e. (id est, that is) and etc, an abbreviation of et cetera (and other things). On such sites, e.g. will be replaced by words such as 'like', 'such as' or 'including'.

(Not an April Fools!)

Thought  for the day: Every editor, copy-editor or proofreader has to scan words carefully, sometimes to ensure material is not libellous, and always has to be sure the words used make good sense. One small example, passing Li's Chinese takeaway today. A large sign read, 'NO ADDED MSG'. This has a quiet irony, as it might mean no added MSG - apart from the MSG already in it! Is it better to say, 'NO MSG ADDED'?



A classic proofreading mistake in a Draft Green Belt Review.

To preserve the setting and special character of historic towns --

'The water meadows in the food plain of the River Stour will remain open.'

Note: have heard of flood plains before but never a 'food plain'.