Frequently Asked Questions

Why should I hire a professional editor/proofreader?

  • Do you have excellent ideas but struggle to find the correct words in English? Are you worried about your grammar or spelling, or about whether your writing style is 'academic' enough? A professional editor/proofreader can help you to refine your language. The language in a professionally edited paper will be accurate, clear and easy to follow. The ideas will be your own, but the language will be polished.


What is the difference between editing and proofreading? Which do I need?


  • This is a tricky question, as these terms mean different things to different people. Publishers use the term 'proofreading' to mean 'working with proofs', i.e. PDFs of the pages of a book, with design and artwork in place. This is the last step before a book goes to print. On the other hand, for many writers, especially individual researchers, 'proofreading' means 'correcting grammar mistakes' or 'fixing typos'.

  • It is perhaps best to think of what I can do for specific client groups, and what I cannot do. If you are a researcher with an article for publication, I am happy to suggest modifications to the structure of your paper. I might, for example, suggest moving a paragraph, removing repetition or adding more detail to a section; see Level 2 here.

  • If you are a student, it would not be ethical for me to give this level of input. With your paper, I will focus on language (grammar, vocabulary, spelling, punctuation, etc.). I will not comment on the content of your paper, and I will not change the organization of your ideas. Your work will remain your own but with errors corrected; see Level 1 here.

There are lots of editors and proofreaders. Why should I hire you?

  • It can be hard to make a choice, I know! When you are comparing editors/proofreaders, ask yourself these questions:

  1. What kind of training in editing and/or proofreading does the person have? Has he or she taken formal courses?

  2. Is the editor/proofreader a member of any professional association? All national editing associations have standards that their members must adhere to. 

  3. Does the editor/proofreader have any background in your subject? This isn't absolutely necessary (I have edited papers on Middle Eastern art, US race relations and computer devices for visually impaired students, and I have no academic background whatsoever in any of those), but it can help to know that you are working with someone who speaks the same academic language that you do.

  • My website will tell you about my background in teaching and curriculum design, my own published materials, my editorial training and my ten years of experience. However, it is also important to find the person you feel most comfortable with. I am happy to chat on Skype to discuss your project with you before you make a commitment.

  • Whichever editor or proofreader you choose, please don't simply choose the cheapest. As we often say in the editorial world, you cannot find editing or proofreading that is good, fast and cheap. Choose two.

How long will it take to edit/proofread my paper?

  • It depends on the length of the paper and the amount of work needed, but generally, a paper of 5,000 words or fewer will be returned to you within two or three days. A paper of 10,000 words will usually be returned within a week. For longer papers, dissertations and theses, I will give you a time estimate when I see how much work is required.

  • In the case of long manuscripts, such as PhD theses or book-length texts, I am happy to work chapter by chapter. I can accommodate your own writing schedule.

I'm a student. Is academic editing/proofreading ethical?

As a university/college writing instructor, I love working with postgraduate students. I enjoy helping academic writers from around the world to develop their writing skills in English. However, I work within the guidelines established by international editors' associations for the ethical editing of theses and dissertations for students, and there are some things that I will not do:

  • I will not comment on the content of your paper.

  • I will not do your research for you, or write your paper.

  • I will not take material that you have copied from a source and paraphrase it into different language.

  • I will not check that the information in your references is correct.

  • I will not check your work for plagiarism (and I will not be responsible for instances of plagiarism).

I do not usually work with undergraduate students, and I will never edit work that is written specifically for an ESL writing course (where your grade is determined largely by your use of language).


If you are writing a paper for evaluation, it is important that you check with your professor or supervisor to make sure it is acceptable to work with an editor. In most cases it is, but you do need to check.

Text and design © 2019–present by Tania Pattison. Header photo and photos of Tania by Sophie Milburn ( All rights reserved.