How to Offer Formatting Services as a Proofreader or Editor

How to Offer Formatting Services as a Proofreader or Editor

  • Jul 05, 2023
  • 5 min read

Offering formatting services can be an opportunity for you, a proofreader or editor, to expand your client base and increase your business earnings. However, before offering these services, you’ll want to ensure that you’re proficient in basic or advanced formatting tasks so you can accurately scope and promote your services and deliver a quality product.

If you’re not sure about providing these services, this post can help you decide by exploring the following:

  • Should you offer document formatting services?
  • How do you offer formatting services as a proofreader or editor?
  • How do you format using Microsoft Word?

Should You Offer Document Formatting Services?

Offering document formatting services isn’t essential for proofreaders or editors, but many choose to add it to help expand their client base and increase the earning potential of their business. Those who offer formatting will often scope their services to ensure that clients understand the difference between proofreading/editing and formatting and what they can expect in the final product.

Deciding whether you should offer formatting and additional specific services comes down to three key considerations:

  1. Your skill set
  2. The cost-to-benefit ratio
  3. The fields or industries you work in

1. Do You Have the Skill Set?

You will need an understanding of at least some of the formatting tools available in Microsoft Word or other word processors. Furthermore, you should understand how to perform several basic formatting tasks that facilitate or streamline other formatting requirements.

For example, applying styles to headings is useful for consistency, but people often use styles to generate a dynamic table of contents. If you’re comfortable generating tables and lists and applying styles, you could reasonably offer at least a basic formatting package. However, if you’re not able to perform these tasks, you’ll want to learn how to before committing to offering the services. An online course can help you develop the skills you need in this regard.

2. Is the Service Worth Your Effort?

Offering formatting services can provide additional revenue per document but only if you can format a document in an effective and efficient manner. A cost–benefit analysis can be helpful. Basic formatting services often cost less than proofreading and editing services, so you’ll want to know that the time you spend formatting wouldn’t be better spent proofreading or editing.

Microsoft Word offers the ability to record and code macros to help automate many formatting and other oft-repeated tasks, saving you time.

3. Does Your Field or Industry Often Require Formatting?

Some fields and industries rely on document formatting more than others. Researchers, for example, aim to publish their work in academic journals, which often have strict formatting requirements in their style guides. Conversely, marketing agencies tend to rely on designers to create the layout for advertisements, posters, or displays, meaning a proofreader may only flag layout issues rather than correcting them.

How to Offer Formatting Services as a Proofreader or Editor

Promoting formatting services is no different from promoting yourself as a freelance proofreader or editor. However, many potential clients may not realize that document formatting is an option when they’re selecting someone for editorial support, so you’ll want to ensure that the service offering is clearly visible, regardless of the selected medium.

The following are additional tips on how to offer formatting services.

1. Learn and Develop

If you already possess basic or advanced formatting skills, then great! Continue to practice and develop these skills so you remain effective and efficient. However, if you don’t feel confident with formatting tasks, don’t worry – you can learn through online training. For example, our Formatting in Microsoft Word course teaches a number of advanced formatting skills and gives you the opportunity to practice what you’ve learned.

2. Define, Scope, and Promote

As a freelance proofreader and/or editor, you already know that promoting yourself on LinkedIn, social media, job boards, and forums is important. You’ll want to update your resume and profiles to showcase your formatting proficiency and experience.

Start by defining and scoping your formatting service. You should promote only what you’re capable of doing, and you should read job descriptions carefully to ensure that you feel comfortable with the required tasks. Consider the core and related skills you’re confident with, such as creating page columns, and either promote these in your listings or be prepared to discuss them. By doing this, you’re making clients feel confident that they’ll receive a professionally presented document.

Remember to update your resume and profiles to reflect the new skills you’ve developed.

3. Competitive and Beneficial Pricing

Analyzing your cost-to-benefit ratio can help you determine what you should set as a baseline for formatting and help you avoid common issues when offering freelance services. Some proofreaders and editors prefer to see the documents before agreeing to a rate since the documents could have ghost formatting issues that will require time to troubleshoot and address.

The Editorial Freelancers Society offers average editorial rates for various services, including document formatting, design, and layout.

Learn How to Format Documents in Microsoft Word

Whether you’re new to document formatting or have years of experience, showcasing your training and experience can help you promote formatting services as a proofreader or editor. Our Formatting in Microsoft Word course will train you in performing basic and advanced document formatting tasks and, upon completion, provide you with a certificate of completion that you can add to your resume and online profiles. Check it out here!

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