Proofreading is essential for ensuring that your documents and publications are presented at an acceptable standard for your readers. Organisations seeking a cheap proofreader often don’t get the results they were looking for. The following case study highlights why cheap proofreading usually isn’t the best choice.

A local council learns about the true cost of a cheap proofreader

In 2014, a local council hired us to proofread their annual report. The task was to mark up a PDF of the annual report and note errors, inconsistencies and style issues. Specifically, they needed the report to match the style conventions found in the Australian Style manual for authors, editors and printers. It took us around one week to proofread the annual report. This included hundreds of mark-ups in the PDF noting the mistakes and changes needed to conform to the style manual. After receiving the document, the local council was very happy with our proofreading work.

In 2015, the same council asked us to provide a quote for proofreading their annual report. A few weeks later they notified us that our quote was substantially higher than several others submitted. Given the cost savings, they decided to go with the cheap proofreading option.

In 2016, the local council got in touch with us again and wanted us to quote on proofreading their annual report. They admitted that the cheap proofreading service had not worked out for them. In fact, the person who did the proofreading had no understanding of the Australian style manual. We learned that the cheap proofreader had charged around 75 per cent less than we had charged in 2014. Unfortunately, the cheap proofreader did not know what they were doing and the local council was not satisfied with the work.

After trying the cheap proofreading service, the local council was willing to pay us substantially more because they needed professional proofreading. The lesson from this experience is that you get what you pay for. Proofreading is a skill that takes a large amount of study and practice to develop.  Unfortunately, anyone can claim to be a proofreader without having the necessary skills and knowledge. For example, we sometimes get calls from people wanting to work for us as proofreaders.  Our first question for them is ‘Do you know and use the Australian style manual?’ Amazingly, the response of many has been ‘What’s a style manual?’

The moral of the story is cheap proofreader might cost you more in the long run.

Michael Gladkoff