Proofreading and copy editing.
  • Services
    • Proofreading
    • Copy editing (syntax, grammar, punctuation)
    • Light style editing (e.g., word repetitions and poor word choices)
  • Markets
    • Student essays (college undergraduate only -- no graduate or high-school work)
    • Nonfiction manuscripts (books, articles, and so on)
    • Fiction (novels and short stories)
    • Business memos and papers
    • Resumes
    • Other material, on a case-by-case basis (see below)
  • How to reach me
    • Use your e-mail program to send to:

Read this first.

Before we agree to work together, please read the information below.
It's best if you know what to expect.

What I do for you.

I proofread and edit your material for spelling, grammar, and punctuation mistakes, and I correct those mistakes. I check your word choices, and suggest better ones. I also point out serious structural mistakes (unclear, out of order, and illogical writing), but without correcting them. I do not edit as deeply as a book or newspaper editor would. In other words, I offer proofreading and copy editing, and that is all.

My background and qualifications.

I come from a family that's fanatic about proper English usage. We kids grew up debating words and usage at the dinner table. (Sometimes we still do, even going so far as to criticize mistakes by Lynne Truss.) My parents, both of them journalism majors, owned a typesetting business and for several years I worked there as a proofreader. In recent years I've edited the novels of several of my friends, and helped edit the book of Faith and Practice for the Iowa Yearly Meeting of Friends (Conservative). In addition, I edit my own writing, sometimes revising a chapter a hundred times or more. Editing is something of an avocation of mine.

How to engage my services.

First, send me an e-mail, attaching the document you want edited. (Scroll up to see the e-mail address; it's near the top of this page.) Word (.doc), rich text (.rtf), and flat text (.txt) are the only formats I work on. I will refuse any other document type, including Adobe Acrobat. In the e-mail, be sure to tell me what date you need the work done by. This will affect the price.

Also, as part of the e-mail, let me know whether you use Microsoft Word. That way, I'll know whether I can use the feature that tracks changes.

I will count the words and look at the date you want the work done by. If I can't guarantee that I will finish the work by the due date I will turn down the job. Usually this won't be a problem unless you want quick turnaround. If you've procrastinated, though, I may not be able to help you.

If my bid is acceptable, deposit the money in my PayPal account. (There is no fee. You will not spend any extra money to use the service, but you must have a credit card.) Send me an e-mail when you have done so. If the money is in the account, I'll reply that I've accepted the job.

If you prefer to avoid electronic transactions, you can send me a money order instead. In this case, your e-mail should make clear that you're paying by money order, and that you're asking for my name and address. Leave yourself plenty of time, since our transaction will be handled the old-fashioned way, with airplanes, trucks, and mailmen involved.

I do not accept checks. They're too much trouble, and I don't want to track the ones that bounce.

I also don't accept cash.

The kinds of work I accept.

I prefer to work on:

  • Student essays (college undergraduate only -- no graduate work, and no high school work)
  • Nonfiction manuscripts
  • Fiction
  • Business memos and papers
  • Resumes

Sometimes I will work on:

  • Technical documents (especially programming manuals and other computer-related material)
  • Medical and scientific documents (depending how esoteric they are)
  • Web pages (text editing only -- no web page design or graphics)
These things will cost you more than the standard rate. Since I can't anticipate what the material will be, I can't anticipate what I will charge you. The rate will have to be negotiable. Once again, please note that I offer proofreading and copy editing only. I am not a technical writer, and I will not reorganize and rewrite your material.

Under no circumstances will I work on:

  • Anything that is not in American English (Australian English, foreign languages, etc.)
  • Web page design
  • Power point presentations (see Tufte)
  • Any creative writing that isn't straight fiction (e.g., poetry, plays, screenplays)
  • Legal documents
  • Anything illegal
  • Anything I think is ethically questionable
  • Writing your manuscript or document. Nor will I expand it to full length. That's your job. Mine is to make sure your spelling, grammar, and word choices are correct.

If you have a job that doesn't fall into any of the above categories, ask. You won't know unless you do, and questions are free.

Your responsibilities

First, if you are not at least 18 years of age, your parent must approve the business transaction between us. Since many people masquerade on the Internet as something other than what they are, I prefer my payments via PayPal. This requires that you have a credit card or debit card, and gives me some reassurance that you're 18 or older. If you're younger than 18, ask your parents to help you.

By engaging my services, you guarantee that your work is your own, not plagiarized or in any other way illegal.

You're free to accept or reject my edits. You're also free to ask questions about what any of my comments or edits meant. (Keep this to a minimum. If I spend time in a long e-mail exchange, that's time taken away from my other endeavors, including my business.) There's a difference between asking a question (because you don't understand something) and arguing. Please don't quibble over the changes I've marked on your manuscript. Any you don't agree with, you're free to disregard.

You must have a functioning e-mail address that will not filter out my correspondence. It's best if you check your e-mail often enough to respond to any questions I may send you. If you're dilatory in responding to my e-mail, I may not be able to finish your job on time, or I may make a wrong assumption about your document. I want to do a good job for you, and that means I may have to ask you a few questions. Please be prepared to respond.

In addition, if the work is long, such as a novel, I may want to break it up. Returning it in chunks reduces the chance of a misunderstanding. In fact, for a long work, you may want to send it to me in chunks, if you haven't dealt with me before: send a short section, then evaluate the result. If you like it (and I think you will), then send me the rest.


I may not be able to take on your work for any number of reasons, including but not limited to:

  • I have too many other editing jobs already
  • You waited too long, and you want it done too quickly
  • It's not the kind of work I do
  • I'm about to go on vacation
  • Personal or family illness
  • Flood, fire, or act of God
If I can't do the job for you, I apologize, and I wish you good luck. I'll still be here in the future. Contact me next time.

I offer a proofreading and copy editing service. I don't guarantee that you'll get an A on your paper, or a job interview because of that great resume, or an agent for your great American novel. I wish you the best of luck, but I'm not responsible for what happens after I've returned a document to you. Don't blame me if you print out the paper, it spontaneously combusts in your hands, and you have to go to the hospital.

What you get for your money.

You get my good faith effort. I want to do a good job for you. The people I've edited in the past have been happy with what I've done, and I think you will be. Sometimes I edit from hard copy because I catch more mistakes that way than I do reading from a monitor or CRT. Sometimes I'll read the material aloud to myself, because that helps me catch word repetitions. I'm meticulous.

If you aren't satisfied and you have specific criticisms, send them to me by e-mail within five business days. If I think they're valid, I'll do the work over. If I don't agree with your criticisms, we'll work it out. This may mean anything up to and including arbitration (for a big job), or my returning your money. Please note: if you ever find my work unacceptable, don't ask me to take you on as a client again.

When the job is done, I will return to you three documents. The first document will be your original, renamed but otherwise unchanged. (For instance, if you sent me "paper.doc" I will return it as something like "JohnDoe.20070114.original.doc".) The second document will be an edited version of the first document (named something like "JohnDoe.20070114.edited.doc"). If you use Word, this document will have the change tracking feature turned on. The third document will contain explanatory comments. If you want to manage the work some other way, let me know, and I'll try to accomodate you, as long as you tell me before I accept your work.

The document remains your property at all times. I will not copy and re-use it in any fashion without your permission. If I want to show the proofreading and editing to someone asking for references, I will ask your permission first. I will also ask your permission if someone wants a direct reference (i.e., I will ask you whether it's agreeable to refer a prospective customer to you, so the prospective customer can ask you questions).

After the job is done.

If you have questions, I will gladly answer them, but please keep them reasonable and limit their number.

If your PC or Mac crashes and you lose the document I sent, I'll re-send it if I still have it. But I will only keep documents temporarily, in case you have questions. I probably won't have your document a month I've returned it to you. Once it's in your hands again, it's your responsibility to make a backup copy on a memory stick, diskette, network drive, or whatever -- and then to keep track of it. Trust me. I've been working with computers for decades and anything can happen, so the first three rules are: backup, backup, backup. Got that? Repeat it until it's firmly implanted in your brain. This is the voice of my own painful experience speaking. If you exercise care, you'll avoid the traumas I've endured.


Rates are variable, depending on the type of material, the number of words, and the date you want the work completed and returned to you.

My minimum charge is ten dollars.

For non-technical material (essays and such), I charge 3 cents a word. Here are some examples:

  • 500 words: $15
  • 1000 words: $30
  • 2000 words: $60

For more technical material (e.g., computer manuals), I charge 5 cents a word. Here are some examples:

  • 500 words: $25
  • 1000 words: $50
  • 2000 words: $100

The above rates are only for turnaround times of a week or more. Rates go up a penny for each day less than a week. Thus, for a six-day turnaround the 3 cent rate for non-technical material becomes a 4 cent rate. (Note: I measure turnaround from the time your e-mail acceptance arrives at my ISP to the day you want the document returned to you. Days are rounded down, so a three and a half day turnaround counts as three days.)

I regret having to quote rates that increase dramatically for short turnarounds, but I'm trying to forestall last-minute desperation; I prefer to leave myself enough time to review the work more than once, and to be able to plan my work week.

Rates above 10,000 words are negotiable, for both technical and non-technical material.

Formatting problems.

Word is a Microsoft product. As such, it is buggy. Sometimes old and new versions of the product don't play well together, and the formatting I see doesn't match what you created. When I send the document back to you, it may have formatting discrepancies (type faces, type size, margins, and so on). I will work with you to fix any problems between our versions of Word. In some cases it may be necessary to use rich text formatting instead of .doc formatting. We'll have to play this by ear.

By the way, I prefer rich text format (.rtf) to Word format (.doc). If convenient for you, send your document that way.


Most recent revision: 20080903