FREE Proofreading Courses
There is certainly a wide variety of proofreading jobs available in the current publishing climate and a correspondingly wide variety of individuals who would like to fill those positions. The training and experience required to carry out such jobs well are frequently lacking, however, even for the most enthusiastic and confident applicants, so proofreading courses are often a practical necessity for proofreaders who are starting their career. Unfortunately, the many different educational opportunities referred to as ‘proofreading courses’ vary as much in content and quality as the texts that professional proofreaders encounter on a daily basis. Before you invest your hard-earned cash in proofreading courses, it is therefore essential to carry out a little research into exactly what the various courses that you are considering promise to teach you.
While you are conducting this initial research, it is wise to watch out for several key topics and categories of information in the course descriptions and outlines that you read. If a proofreading course does not include instruction in most of these matters, it will not be as useful as a course that does. Excellent proofreading courses will, for instance, introduce students to the concept and use of different styles, such as that presented in the Chicago Manual of Style – a manual used by authors of many different kinds of text. The importance of following publishers’ guidelines with precision should also be emphasised. Although not all proofreading jobs will require expert knowledge of referencing techniques, the best free proofreading courses will provide training in the most common documentation styles used in scholarly writing, such as the somewhat challenging citation style recommended in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association.
The majority of free proofreading courses will assume prior knowledge of correct grammatical constructions, punctuation and spelling for the language in which you hope to work, but the most useful courses will also review these topics and provide practical instruction in successfully recognising and efficiently correcting authorial mistakes and inconsistencies in these areas. Using abbreviations and specialised terminology effectively can also form an important part of language training. Some instruction in the proper use of the software that is most popular among authors and publishers, such as Microsoft Word and Adobe Acrobat, is absolutely essential, and advice on tracking changes, commenting in marginal formats and other methods of marking text (in print as well as on screen) for correction and typesetting is definitely required. Some providers of proofreading courses will also guarantee students paid work proofreading real documents for real clients, and there is simply no substitute for this valuable hands-on experience.
Finally, truly sophisticated proofreading courses will discuss methods for obtaining proofreading jobs and communicating effectively with authors. Respect for the textual efforts of authors, insight into their intentions and patience in the face of confusion are vital to successful proofreading, so the best proofreading courses will address these issues. Such courses will also remind prospective proofreaders that anyone – even carefully trained and sharp-eyed proofreaders – can make mistakes, so encouragement to check every proofreading job that you complete with painstaking care before you return it to the client is a sure sign of a well-designed proofreading course.