Proofreading Rates – Per Word and Hourly With Charts

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Candace Osmond

Candace Osmond studied Advanced Writing & Editing Essentials at MHC. She’s been an International and USA TODAY Bestselling Author for over a decade. And she’s worked as an Editor for several mid-sized publications. Candace has a keen eye for content editing and a high degree of expertise in Fiction.

Are you new to the proofreading industry? One question you might have is how much your services should cost. 

You can set your proofreading rates per word based on your skill level, the deadline, genre of writing, and other factors. I made this guide to help both proofreaders offering services and writers looking to hire.

Learn how to price proofreading services using this comprehensive breakdown.

Who Should Use a Proofreader?

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Professional proofreaders can be used in many ways, and a variety of factors can determine these wide range of services.

  • Writers who are not an English speaker
  • Writers, authors, and academics who are always searching for good online proofreading services
  • A skilled writer who wants basic editing
  • Almost anyone working in the publishing industry
  • Teachers and students writing academic documents
  • Someone looking to learn more about practical proofreading skills
  • Those needing personal essay proofreading
  • Authors using a ghostwriter and need basic style editing

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What is the Average Rate for Proofreading per Hour?

Proofreading hourly rates are not common because proofreaders cannot guess how long it will take to finish your document. You’ll only see a few freelancers do this, ranging anywhere from $10 to $100 an hour for specialized proofreading services where the scope of the work is established upfront.

Charging by the hour is not ideal because honesty may be an issue. The proofreader might intentionally take a long time to submit so they can charge more. 

Some clients give you a quick deadline so they will pay less. But they usually get put off before the contract, especially if you charge more than usual. 

The time you put into editing doesn’t necessarily dictate the quality of your work. If you’re a beginner who writes in English as a second language, you’ll take longer to finish. Meanwhile, experts take less time to get the job done. 

Another problem to consider with charging by the hour is paying for the whole service even if you didn’t like it. 

I only recommend charging by the hour if you’re an expert proofreader with systematic rates. Your client will be happier if you can guarantee a quick, high-quality submission.

Payments will be much easier and fairer when you charge by bulk words. The final cost is easy to calculate, and you can pay ahead of time. Just remember that editing standards and the level of editing offered differ from one provider to the next.

How Much Does It Cost to Proofread 1000 Words?

Most talented proofreaders charge editing fees. The average proofreading rate per word is $0.013-$0.016. That’s equal to about $13-$16 per 1000 words. But the rates may depend on several factors, including the turnaround time, proofreader’s expertise, and the genre of writing.

Here’s a guide on the average proofreading rates for different writing genres so you can understand an editing price quotation.

Business or Self-Help

Rate Per Word: $.0158

Rate Per 1000 Words: $15.80


Rate Per Word: $0.0148

Rate Per 1000 Words: $14.80

Historical Fiction

Rate Per Word: $0.0139

Rate Per 1000 Words: $13.90

Literary Fiction

Rate Per Word: $0.0147

Rate Per 1000 Words: $14.70


Rate Per Word: $0.0152

Rate Per 1000 Words: $15.20


Rate Per Word: $0.0135

Rate Per 1000 Words: $13.50

Sci-Fi or Fantasy

Rate Per Word: $0.0130

Rate Per 1000 Words: $13

Thriller, Mystery, or Crime

Rate Per Word: $0.0137

Rate Per 1000 Words: $13.70

Young Adult

Rate Per Word: $0.0131

Rate Per 1000 Words: $13.10

Delivery time is also a crucial factor in determining proofreading rates for services. Here’s a sample of proofreading rates per 1000 words.

Turnaround timeCost per 1000 words
120 hours (5 days)$30-$40
72 hours (3 days)$42-$70
24 hours (1 day)$51-$90

You might find freelance proofreaders who offer their services much cheaper. But you’ll never know whether they’re a professional or not. There are also a lot of agencies and companies that offer meager prices for low-quality services.

Always interview a proofreader before hiring them. Ask them about their previous experiences, look for their portfolio, and check their reviews. You should also ask them if you can get a refund for any errors left in your work. 

How Much Should a Proofreader Charge Per Page?

Charging by the page is another unreliable way to set proofreading rates. Your page count depends on the format of the document. A 500-word essay can reach two to three pages if there are huge margins and spacing. The font size and type may also affect the page count.

Average Freelance Proofreading Rates

The average freelance proofreading rate is $0.013-$0.016 per word or $13-$16 per 1000 words. Freelance proofreaders who offer copy-editing services alongside their proofreading careers have higher rates. 

If you treat freelance proofreading as a full-time job, you can earn as much as you’d do with some 9-5 jobs. 

How Do You Set Proofreading Rates?

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Set Per Word or Per Hour (per word is best!)

Hourly rates are only ideal for proofreaders who have been in the industry for a long time and are looking for full-time employment. But hourly rates will not please your clients if you’re a beginner working on long-form content. It will also lead to several conflicts and confusion.

Charging per word is more practical than an hourly wage for beginners and advanced proofreaders. Whereas hourly rates are hard to tell before finishing the job, charging per word is fixed. Clients will quickly sign a contract with you without any risk. 

It’s also easier to set the rate depending on your level of expertise. For example, if you’re a beginner, you might charge $0.012 per word. As you get more experience and expand your portfolio, you can start charging $0.015 per word.  

Determine the Amount of Work with a Proofread

Tip for professional editing: do not give your freelance rates right away. Instead, ask the client for the exact copy of the work. This process is essential because some types of documents are more challenging to proofread than others. You might encounter texts with more mistakes, which ideally cost more. 

Some clients will not give you the entire document because you’ll have access to their work without the contract. You may ask for an excerpt of the text to evaluate and sample proofread. Try proofreading the small piece of text and submit it to your client to give them an idea of your skills.

This strategy is beneficial for both proofreader and client. Discuss the deadline and the payment, sign a contract, and start your work. 

Consider the Deadline

Some proofreaders have strict terms for how they will be compensated according to the deadline. For example, the rate for a 3-day turnaround time is different from a 5-day deadline. But sometimes, it’s better only to raise the price for last-minute deadlines.

Ideally, proofreaders can finish a 2000-word essay in 24 hours. So you shouldn’t accept a 10,000-word paper due in three days unless you’ll receive extra compensation. The additional price is essential since you will be working in your personal time. 

It’s also essential to inform your client if they are setting unrealistic expectations. Let them know it’s impossible to turn over an entire research article in 24 hours, especially if the subject is beyond your expertise.

Proper communication can make negotiation smoother. They will understand your situation, and you can protect yourself from burnout. 

Account for Your Experience

Like other services, proofreading costs depend on the service provider’s experience. If you’ve been in the industry for a long time, you deserve to charge higher. That’s because you have encountered the same types of documents and errors in your years of work.

But familiarity with the job is not enough. Continuous professional development is also crucial so you can justify your higher rates. Some proofreaders have been in the industry for years yet have the same skill level.

You can also start receiving training for a specialization. A proofreader or a proofreading company might specialize in translated documents. Others offer different rates for proofreading in US and UK English. 

Check the Type of Document You’re Proofreading

Another consideration for setting your proofreading rates is the type of document. Even if you’re only responsible for mechanical errors, the process still differs according to the genre. For example, documents full of jargon are more challenging to proofread than casual writing.

Set your rates according to the difficulty of the genre. Or you can stick to one or two types of writing and charge more for them. For example, you might be an expert proofreader specializing in academic articles, research reports, and theses. 

Other proofreaders even have sub-specializations for which they charge more. You can charge more for academic articles in the social sciences if you have a degree in this field. 

However, you can set lower prices if you’re not yet a pro in your niche. You’ll eventually become an advanced proofreader in your field with enough experience and practice. 

Defend the Case for Your Rate

There are times when clients set unrealistic expectations yet want to pay less. Suppose a customer opposes a freelancer’s rates, some lower prices with the belief that any client is better than none. But you shouldn’t do this if you want to be a successful freelancer.

Defend the case for your rate. It helps to be transparent in how you set them. Let them know that you charge fairly according to the genre, your expertise, and the turnaround time. You may even compare your competitive prices to other agencies. 

You have the skills to help these people and know the industry better than anyone. So there’s nothing wrong with negotiating.

Set Your Proofreading Rates Correctly

Fair compensation matters when you’re providing proofreading jobs and services. Set your rates according to your ability, the document type, deadline, and the length of work. You can even consider the cost of living in your location.

I hope this article has helped you decide how much you should charge per word. Keep honing your proofreading skills to increase your value. Check out our post on ideas for proofreading business names.