The Society for Editors and Proofreaders wonders if you are up to a challenge. To dispel the myth that anyone can be a proofreader (or an editor), the Society has specially created a proofreading test. Give it a whirl and see how you do. The test can be found at the Society’s website. Just click the proofreading test link in the “So you think you can proofread?” box. Or you can click this link to go directly to the test. Don’t worry — the results are private and I won’t ask how you did.

Via Rich Adin’s An American Editor blog


  1. I looked at this and it doesn’t test what is “proofreading” by my definition. It requires not just proofing but fact-checking. For instance is the conversion of kph to mph correct, was George IV’s wife Caroline or Catherine?

  2. Ellen, but that’s just it – an editor’s job does include a certain amount of fact checking. It’s not just checking if correct grammar and spelling is used.

    I passed the test (barely), which kind of amuses me since English is not my native language. However the test itself does have some problems – one of the questions is whether you should add a space to “websites”, but the source text already has it as “web sites”, so no change is necessary. In addition it subtracts a point from removing / in “km/h”, when what you’re after is kph for both – or km/h for both (which I prefer, but it wasn’t an option).

    Oh yeah, inconsistent space usage in “105km/h” vs. “95 mph” wasn’t mentioned in the test question. Looks like they missed that. I prefer SI usage of having a space between numbers and units, but in English this seems to be rather inconsistent. IMO put a space in there as it aids readability and also makes it easier for translators – wont you please think of the translators? :)

  3. Yes, I understand an editor’s job includes fact checking. However, I distinguish that from “proofreading,” which to me would be a ways down the scale from editing. Guess I need to make sure I’m clear on what exactly is required – or offered.

  4. Frode wrote:
    “but that’s just it – an editor’s job does include a certain amount of fact checking”

    . . . but isn’t this a test of ‘Proofreading’ ?

    After all the site does say …

    “Try our new multiple-choice proofreading test and discover what proofreading involves – and whether you have what it takes to do it”

  5. It’s a test for the job “proofreader”, not simply the task “proofreading”. In that respect I think it succeeds in giving the impression that it takes more to be a good proofreader than simply having a good grasp of spelling and grammar. Note that this didn’t even go one step further like you’d have with an editor, which would question the content, not just facts, and also offer suggestions on how to improve the writing so it reads better.

  6. The test was useless for U.S. English and, since the link above that leads to the test bypasses the home page, I didn’t even realize that it was using U.K. English and printing conventions. Overall, I believe it is set for people to fail or barely pass, promoting the feeling that the testee *needs* the promoted courses. I found that a number of items were open to opinion or preferred style (such as the use of the closed em dash vs. open en dash) or simply inconsistent (why would one use the titles or full names of some people and not others?). Also, marking down for queries? I’d fire an editor, manager or staff writer who complained about queries from the proofreader. Queries are just that, points that need clarification from the author or editor or someone up the food chain. Note: I have been a printing professional for 35 years, from typographer on up to production manager (U.S.-based), in fields including periodical publications, university texts, technical manuals and medical and legal documents. I failed, mostly due to queries and differences between U.S. and U.K. common usages (I am guessing at the latter, since I ran it by one of my Brit friends (a barrister by profession) and she had the same sense of inconsistency). Guess I should turn in my pension.

  7. I haven’t even taken the test and I probably won’t. I just absolutley love how everone’s comments are so well spelled (because this is a proofreading site, I assume). It gives me a fuzzy feeling inside that not all internet users are barely useful with the english language. GO TEAM!

  8. Actually, my title at work is proofreader, and fact checking is part of my job description. I’m not supposed to go as far as copyediting, but sometimes the line is fuzzy. And I query all the time. I have to. How else am I supposed to make sure the copywriter and I are on the same page?

  9. –failed–
    I lost a ton of points for queries and had some issues with ambiguities (i.e. name spellings). I assumed that you weren’t supposed to consult outside sources as it was accessing my proofreading skills. “Dodo” or “Didi” instead of Dido? I had no idea what any of those were. I though that the M16 Duke of [whatever] was one big title, so that was my own fault.

  10. ********passed*******
    84% on the second attempt though..:p
    No idea what some of the questions meant like query “prince charles married what person?”
    just realised the huge difference between U.S & U.K english

  11. FAILED! A mere 58 per cent!

    There are some differences between US and UK English, Romir, but I’m pretty sure “prince charles” needs to be capitalised. Also “U.S” and “U.K” need full stops after them (but not in British English). An ampersand…?

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