Most proofreaders are fascinated by language. But not everyone can boast the credentials of recent Proofreading Academy graduate Elizabeth, who has a PhD in linguistics! How is this enthusiastic linguist finding life as a freelance proofreader? We spoke to her to find out.
Hi, Elizabeth. What made you consider the Proofreading Academy course?
I had just completed a postdoctoral research position in linguistics. I was looking for an introduction to proofreading and copy editing that I could do online with a flexible schedule. And the Proofreading Academy course appealed because of the chance to work for Proofed.
Had you done any proofreading before?
I had done some voluntary proofreading for an open access linguistics press, as well as some editing when peer reviewing articles for journals. But nothing professional.
Was there anything particularly challenging in the course for you?
Although I have been a Microsoft Word user for a long time, I had not done much with comments or the Track Changes tool. And since I am more familiar with formatting in LaTeX from my own work, the module on formatting in MS Word was a bit of a learning curve for me.
How have you found the transition to working as a freelance proofreader?
It has been quite a smooth transition! The material covered in the course was good preparation for the kind of academic proofreading that I’ve been doing with Proofed.
I’ve not been self-employed before, but I’m quite liking it. I like getting to choose what I will work on and being able to change gears when I want to. Currently, I don’t have a fixed routine, but I usually proofread from late morning through mid-afternoon. And while I mostly work from home, I try to take advantage of the freedom of freelancing to work outside when I can.
What do you enjoy most about proofreading?
In academia, you spend a lot of time researching one topic intensively. I enjoy that, but it’s also exciting to glimpse into areas that other people are excited about, and I like the little “deep dives” that you sometimes have to do to check the terminology in a document.
In addition, I enjoy editing work by researchers who do not have English as a first language. Getting work published in journals is difficult enough without the language barrier, so I like the idea that the polish I give a document may improve its odds of getting published.
More generally, I also like that proofreading can feel a bit like doing a puzzle – the goal is to find an elegant way of phrasing sentences and organizing ideas that clarifies, rather than changes, the author’s meaning. It’s rewarding to find a nice solution to an editing puzzle.
What do you do when you aren’t proofreading?
Besides continuing to work on my Norwegian language skills, I do some research (I study verb and adjectival meanings in Navajo), play violin in a local orchestra, and garden.
What has been the single best benefit of having done the course?
It gave me confidence to start proofreading professionally. There are a lot of resources out there – style guides, handbooks, reference works – and, at first, I thought I needed to read all of them before I could proofread even one document. Having a course that gave me a good foundation in various skills meant I could get some practical experience while I learned.
All in all, then, the course was very good value. It was quite thorough, and I particularly appreciated the practice proofreading documents at the end of the modules.
Do you have a website or LinkedIn profile you want to share?
You can check out my LinkedIn profile here.
Becoming A Proofreader
Do you want to follow in Elizabeth’s footsteps and become a proofreader? If so, sign up for a free trial of our Becoming A Proofreader course and find out if you have what it takes today.