SfEP guide to using freelances


The working relationship with a freelance proofreader

The Society for Editors and Proofreaders (SfEP) publishes on its website the following tips for getting the best from your freelance proofreader or copy-editor:


There is plenty of useful information to create a smooth and productive relationship with an editorial freelancer. To summarize, there are 21 tips for making the most of your freelance proofreader, split over four stages, some of which are as follows:

1. Planning the project

  • Keep the manuscript or draft document simple.
  • Know the difference between copy-editing and proofreading.
  • Be aware that proofreading takes time and money.
  • Be clear what you expect the proofreader to do.
  • Be clear and consistent on the style to be used, such as British or US spelling or punctuation.
  • Brief the freelance proofreader fully.
  • Arrange to pay the freelancer promptly.

2. When sending the work

  • Keep the freelancer updated, especially if the schedule changes.
  • Do not give unrealistically short deadlines.
  • Ensure that all the final documents to be proofread and any other documents for reference or information are handed over.
  • If you feel that you need the freelance proofreader’s advice do not be afraid to ask for it.

3. While the work is being done

  • Treat the proofreader as part of the team.
  • Answer proofreading queries promptly.
  • Keep the freelancer advised if you will be away on holiday or other absence.
  • Remember that the proofreader may have other work in progress while handling yours.

4. After the proofreader has signed off

  • Acknowledge safe receipt of the completed work.
  • Process the invoice promptly.
  • Give constructive feedback and acknowledge when a good job has been done.
  • Please send the proofreader a copy of the published product (for example, a book, journal, or report) for future reference. This is especially helpful if it is part of a series that the proofreader is expected to handle.