Recommended rate per 1000 words for freelance proofreaders

What is the recommended rate per 1,000 words for freelance proofreaders in the UK? In this article we have a look. 

UK recommended rate per hour

In the UK the Chartered Institute of  Editing and Proofreading (CIEP) is the main body that advises on rates. As of February 2024 their recommended rate is:

Type of work Suggested minimum hourly rate
Proofreading £28.65
Copyediting £33.30

As the CIEP emphasises that these rates assume a freelance proofreader running their own business where they need to cover the costs of taxes, rent, subscriptions etc.

The conundrum is that proofreading companies usually pay per word/1,000 words, so an hourly rate can be largely meaningless.

Translating this into a rate per 1,000 words

As I have been in the proofreading industry I have a good idea of what the expected proofreading speed is: generally at least 1,500 to 2,000 words an hour. This is what proofreading companies will recommend.

So by simple arithmetic, we can ‘convert’ the hourly recommended rate to a per 1000 words recommended rate.

Based off the CIEP’s recommended hourly rate:

£28.65 /1.5 = £19.10 per 1000 words (sourcing the work yourself)

£28.65/2 = £14.32 per 1000 words (sourcing the work yourself)

How does working for an academic proofreading company measure up to this rate (per hour)?

That said I have it on good authority that (academic) proofreading companies pay about £6-10 per 1000 words. Going off their recommended speed of 1,500 to 2,000 words an hour you are looking at £9 per hour (doing 1,500 words an hour at £6 per 1,000 words) on the lower end to £20 per hour (doing 2,000 words an hour at £10 per 1,000 words). So significantly below their recommended rates – but, unfortunately, they are the ‘rate setters’ (learn what these are in more detail on our course).