What is it, and why do I use one?
What is a brief?
Not all proofreading, editing, and writing services use the same sort of brief, or even use the same name for it. Put simply, it's a way to easily collect all the important information about a job in one place. It breaks down what the professional needs to do in order to complete a particular job successfully, and also provides written confirmation of the agreed services and fees.
See below for an example of the brief format I use. (If you only require proofreading, some of these sections won't be relevant).
Documents attached in email
What should I have received? Please specify file type(s) and size(s), as well as the document title(s).
Is there anything I absolutely must not change?
Who is this piece intended for? Who do you expect will read it?
Is there anything I need to be conscious of, eg do you want this piece to be suited to a global readership?
What is the piece intended to do? Is it persuasive, informative, etc?
If applicable: Where will the piece be published? Please give the web address, journal title, etc.
Give an exact value or range, eg 500 words, 500-550 words.
Supplementary style points
For each part of your document (headings, subheadings, main body, etc), please give the:
Size and font
Whether it should be title or sentence case
Line/paragraph spacing amount (if nonstandard)
Alignment (align left, centre, etc).
What formatting rules should I adhere to? Eg the Guardian newspaper’s style guide; the in-house style used by your business; the standard instructions given by your university.
Type of work required
Proofreading: Included in all my services. Covers spelling, grammar, and punctuation.
Editing: If desired; is this copy or content editing? Would you like it to be minimal or comprehensive?
Style: What sort of tone are you aiming for? Should the piece be funny and light-hearted? Serious and educational?
MS Word, PDF, etc
Who should I contact if I have queries/am ready to return the document? Please include your full name, email, and phone number, as well as what times I can expect to be able to reach you.
The final amount we have agreed on, in GBP (£).
Terms of payment
When can I expect to receive the fee, eg within 30 days of job completion?
How should I return the completed work to you (email, etc)?
Anything else of importance.