If you ask me, I’d say proofreading is probably one of the most in-demand jobs right now. It’s ideal for grammar lovers, readers at heart, and English experts.
But every beginner needs to know the million-dollar question: How long does it take to proofread 1000 words? Knowing the answer will give you an idea about your client’s expectations.
Discover how long it takes to proofread and how many words you should proofread in a single hour.
How Long Does It Take to Proofread 1000 Words?
There is no actual time on how long it takes to proofread 1000 words. An experienced proofreader in the freelance industry may spend a couple of hours on a project. This depends on the type of documents, length, and their expertise.
Some publication houses require you to proofread 800 to 1000 words per hour. They’re pretty slow compared to freelancers, but that’s only because they have to follow strict industry standards.
Ideally, a professional proofreader who’s already accustomed to their job would take about 20 minutes to proofread a 1000-word document. That means they are already familiar with the publisher’s style guide and can answer any question about the writing piece.
But a proficient proofreader might take more than an hour to proofread a 1000-word file for a new client. They’ll need more time to familiarize themselves with the style guide and format of the paper.
How Many Words Can You Proofread in an Hour?
Deciding on the exact time consumption for proofreading an entire document can be challenging, especially if you’re a newbie. Your first few weeks will be prolonged, but you’ll be able to work your way up with enough practice.
Assuming you can proofread 1000 words in 20 minutes, then you can proofread up to 3000 words in just one hour. But this depends on the type of proofreading project you have.
If you’re not yet used to the client’s style guide and other requirements, it’s okay to proofread about 1000 words or fewer in an hour. Some proofreading jobs only let you proofread hundreds of words in an hour because it focuses more on the document format.
Some people with long-term proofreading jobs say they work on a 10000-word project with a 5-day deadline. So, if you divide 10000 words into five days, you get 2000 words per day. If you’re already an expert, you can work on the project for at least 40 minutes daily.
This type of assignment offers flexibility for freelancers. You can work under regular office hours to proofread more writing projects and earn more.
Suppose you’re a freelance proofreader who juggles multiple tasks from different clients from 9 AM to 5 PM. If all your clients give you 5-day deadlines for 10000-word projects, that means you can finish up to 24,000 words daily.
But as much as you want to earn more, you shouldn’t sacrifice the quality of your work to save more time. Be professional enough to proofread the project at least twice or until it’s perfect. That means it’s often unrealistic to proofread over 20000 words a day.
If you want to guarantee you’re doing your job correctly, try limiting your projects to 5000 words daily. If you’re new to the job, you can start with 1000 words daily.
How Much Does It Cost to Proofread 1000 Words?
Many proofreaders experience difficulty setting their rates. Some cannot decide whether to provide a quote through an hour pay rate or word count-based rate. For this type of business, it is much easier to set your rates per 1000 words than set a rate per hour.
Determining the correct time frame for specific project files might be challenging. But with the word count as the basis, there’s no need to estimate your standard rate.
The average rate per word is $0.013-$0.016. That means you can earn a minimum rate of $13 per 1000 words. Reedsy also sets its normal rates based on the genre of writing. For example, business documents cost $15.80 per 1000 words, while fantasy costs $13.
But it’s rare for proofreaders to set their rates based on the genre. That’s because you won’t focus on huge mistakes like character dynamism, fact-checking, and narrative pacing. Proofreaders usually only ensure correct punctuation, spelling, and grammar.
If your client prefers to pay per hour, the usual rate is $10 per hour. But you can charge higher in case the client needs an urgent document. It’s also acceptable to charge higher for your proofreading rate if you spot several mistakes on their file.
I highly recommend charging by the hour if you’re already an established proofreader with stable rates. Or else your clients may not be satisfied with your work.
Some proofreaders also charge per page rather than per word or hour. But this system is unreliable because the page number depends on the document format.
How Long Does Proofreading Take?
There are a few factors that go into consideration with this.
Clients’ Documents Source Material
Knowing more information about the source of your client’s material will help you save more time proofreading. If it’s a simple piece of writing with only a few words, you might take less than an hour to proofread
However, some materials require you to let an editor loose for more in-depth changes. Contact a professional editor or have your client hire one to polish their writing. Allot an hour for editing your client’s work before proofreading it.
Some written documents may also spend an extra hour in translation. Make sure your client hands you the edited and translated paper. Doing so will ensure you don’t have to go back and forth with the house translator and editor.
You can also set higher proofreading rates if you spot multiple errors since the activity takes more effort. It might take around 30 minutes longer if the text has many punctuation slip-ups. The same is true with grammar mistakes.
Writers with English as their second language encounter more writing errors, especially homophones and sentence structure. Try setting a personalized quote for them, considering the difficulty level and word count.
The Length of the Document
Checking the written document’s length is the best way to get an hour estimation of the proofreading process. It can also help you arrange an accurate quote for your proofreading rates.
Obviously, longer pieces require more time and effort to proofread. Count how many words you can finish in an hour among different documents. Find the average, and then you can predict how long you’ll complete your following proofreading projects.
Standard of Writing
Some documents only take a few minutes to proofread because you only need to fix the spelling and grammar. Others will demand a sharper eye because of the multiple misuses of the Oxford Comma and homophones.
Publishing houses usually have rigid style guides. For example, you need to follow a specific format for dates, times, and days of the week. There are also different rules on capitalizing headings and subheadings.
Proofreading also involves checking the format of the writer’s work. Your time consumption for proofreading an abstract can be lower than a book review because abstracts are merely short summaries.
There are many things to consider when proofreading different types of content. For example, blog posts should always be divided into headings. Each paragraph should only have two to three lines for readability.
Meanwhile, reflective essays can include several lines per paragraph. Observe proper margin size, document layout, and font style.
You also need to consider your professional relationship with the agency in question. How many assignments do they give you daily? If you work on two 1000-word essays a day, working one hour on each paper can cause burnout.
Make sure to take breaks between papers so you can rest your eyes and spot more writing mistakes later. If you try finishing your tasks within an unrealistic time frame, you risk compromising the quality of your work.
It’s also not advisable to work with multiple clients as a freelancer. Different writers have diverse writing standards, which might leave you confused.
The Deadline Set by Your Client
You can divide the paper into chunks if your client sets a 24-hour deadline for a 1000-word document. Proofread one-third of the article in the morning, then another in the afternoon, and the last one before bedtime.
This strategy will help you pay attention to every detail of the document. Go over the paper one more time before submitting it the next day.
Can You Do It This Afternoon?
No. There’s a huge chance your proofreader isn’t available at such short notice, especially if the document includes 3000 words or more. Proofreaders usually work on several projects at once, so adjusting their schedules won’t be easy.
Time Management is Essential
An excellent proofreader strikes a balance between working under pressure and taking the time to spot every minor error. This process is challenging and completely different from leisure reading and writing.
Starting slowly in your first few months as a proofreader is okay. As you improve, aim to proofread 1000 words per hour and 5000 words per day.