Spirrison and Gordy (1993) found 193 undergraduate students had an average error rate of 24% when proofreading a 385-word passage with 49 seeded errors. This means, on average, undergraduates missed 12 of the 49 seeded errors in just two pages. Using various populations, other researchers found error rates from 10-58% when asking subjects to find wrong words and/or nonwords in a predetermined text (Cohen, 1980; Daneman & Stainton, 1993; Dittmer, 1994; Healey, 1980; Levy, 1983; Levy & Begin, 1984; Levy, Di Persio, & Hollingshead, 1992; Riefer, 1991, Wallace, 1991). Since no such studies have been conducted using solely professional editors as subjects, we must turn to anecdotal evidence and rules of thumb from non-quantitative academic sources. The average rate for professional editors has been stated to be as much as 5% or more (Montgomery, 2013; Shipton, 2011). At WordSharp, we strive for the best possible outcome. With proofreading tools and trained doctoral-level editors reading each text multiple times, all of our WordSharp editors have achieved an average rate of less than 3% with some less than 1%.
Cohen, G. (1980). Reading and searching for spelling errors. In U. Frith (Ed.), Cognitive processes in spelling (pp. 135-155). London, UK: Academic Press.
Daneman, M., & Stainton, M. (1993). The generation effect in reading and proofreading: Is it easier or harder to detect errors in one's own writing? Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 5, 297-313.
Dittmer, M. L. (1994). Proficiency and workload in simultaneous and successive proofreading tasks. Journal of General Psychology, 121(4), 319-332.
Healey, A. F. (1980). Proofreading errors on the word: The new evidence on reading units. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 6(1), 45-57.
Levy, B. A. (1983). Proofreading familiar text: Constraints on visual processing. Memory & Cognition, 11(1), 1-12.
Levy, B. A., & Begin, J. (1984). Proofreading familiar text: Allocating resources to perceptual and conceptual processing. Memory & Cognition, 12(6), 621-632.
Levy, B. A., Di Periso, R., & Hollingshead, A. (1992). Fluent reading: Repetition, automaticity, and discrepancy. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 18(5), 957-971.
Montgomery, A. (2013). Error rates in editing. Retrieved from https://www.copyediting.com/error-rates-in-editing/
Riefer, D. M. (1991, December). Behavioral engineering proposals: 4. Is "backward reading" an effective proofreading strategy? Perceptual Motor Skills, 767-777.
Shipton, R. (2011). The mysterious relationship: Authors and their editors. In D. Cullen (Ed.) Editors, Scholars, and the social text. Toronto, Canada: University of Toronto Press.
Wallace, B. (1991). Imaging ability and performance in a proofreading task. Journal of Mental Imagery, 15(3-4), 177-188.
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