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Samples of proofreading / editing work.

Ace Contributor
James P Member Since: Oct 1, 2017
1 of 12

I am a freelancer and often in job ads the client will ask for samples of previous work.  While I understand why a client might do this, it creates a problem.  The documents I work on or not my work nor my property. I feel a responsibility to treat everything I work on as 100% confidential, regardless of where the final document is published.  I also don't feel comfortable asking for permission to do so and one the one occasion I did, the client was less than happy.

I was interested in a client's side on how I can make this work for all parties,



Goran V Moderator Member Since: Mar 24, 2017
2 of 12

Hi James,

If you do not want to share your work from previous clients as an example for which you can ask them for a permission. 
You can make your example of your work not connected for any projects your work on here and upload it in your portfolio section.

Ace Contributor
James P Member Since: Oct 1, 2017
3 of 12

Hi Goran,


Thanks for your reply but it doesn't really address the issue.  As a proofreader/editor, none of the work I do is ever really mine. It belongs to the client I originally did the work for,  As I said in my original post, I'm not even going to ask for permission to share work I know is confidential. That would be highly unprofessional.


I originally posted this in the Clients Section (it was moved here which is fair enough) because I wanted to get some of the clients' perspectives on how many of them would be happy for their work to be shared when they themselves are requesting samples.

Community Guru
Randall S Member Since: Mar 20, 2017
4 of 12

It would help to have an established portfolio of past work. Use your judgement on which clients you ask, and always tell them you're talking about a very small portion of work (say, a paragraph or two). If you've done some work on material that is public and free to view (such as on a blog or a newspaper or magazine), you really shouldn't have much trouble with this. Or, simply point potential clients to where they can view some of your work. 


If you've taken tests (I believe there are some on Upwork) that showcase your editing ability, point to these. In lieu of actual samples, it may also help to ask some past clients for references instead. Let the potential client know that while the actual work is proprietary and that you are not at liberty to share it (which, I would think most clients would be happy to hear you're keeping your word about their privacy and confidence), you CAN give them references and recommendations.


Another option is to use some spare time to produce some edited work on your own that you ARE free to share as samples. Do some writing, or ask some friends for samples, and edit those as show pieces. 



Community Guru
Cheryl K Member Since: Jul 16, 2015
5 of 12


Either ask clients if you may use a portion of the complete work for your portfolio (I have never had a client say no) or go to Google, use Blogger to create a free blog, then create some sample work there. You can point clients to that blog as long as it does not have contact info.

Have you written any articles for Linked In? Use those as samples. Otherwise you are stuck asking for a small paid sample.

Community Guru
Douglas Michael M Member Since: May 22, 2015
6 of 12

Even with client permission, proofreading and editing is hard to document without before and after samples. And what client, or contractor for that matter, wants to expose the client’s deficiencies to the world?

I do have one exceptional sample which I have asked permission to use. It was a very well (and densely) written medical abstract requiring the most minor of technical tweaks along with the primary brief of reducing the word count. In that case, there’s no shame attached to the “before” state, and it’s a good demonstration of why even the best authors may require professional editing.

Another, more roundabout way to illustrate the nuts and bolts of editing is to find Wikipedia entries that interest you and become their volunteer editor. Your edits will be tracked on your history page, which you can offer to illustrate the kinds of value an editor brings. All Wikipedia content is in the public domain, and your history page is yours to expose.




Ace Contributor
James P Member Since: Oct 1, 2017
7 of 12
Some interesting ideas here, so thanks to all who have contributed.
Community Guru
Tonya P Member Since: Nov 26, 2015
8 of 12

I would probably refer clients to my profile reviews as an indication of my work quality. But, you could also find an article or blog and create an edited version. It would probably take you less than 5 minutes to find an article online in dire need of editing. 

Community Guru
Bettye U Member Since: Mar 6, 2016
9 of 12

Technically, if you did not sign an agreement prohibiting you from doing this, you are free to share the document. Consider sending a page or two as a sample from somewhere in the middle. Another alternative is to send a sample edit you might have done for a client who did not hire you (some clients will post samples of their documents in their ads, and I usually will edit a few paragraphs as a sample).

Good luck to you. 

Community Guru
Petra R Member Since: Aug 3, 2011
10 of 12

Bettye U wrote:

Technically, if you did not sign an agreement prohibiting you from doing this, you are free to share the document. 

Ah, no. Not on Upwork. Unless you have an agreement to the contrary, you can't do any such thing."Technically" or otherwise.