The brief

What is it, and why do I use one?

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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).

Brief

Specifics

Exceptions/considerations

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?

Target audience

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?

Purpose

What is the piece intended to do? Is it persuasive, informative, etc?

Publication

If applicable: Where will the piece be published? Please give the web address, journal title, etc.

Maximum length

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).

House style

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?

File type

MS Word, PDF, etc

Deadline

DD/MM/YYYY; time.

Contact details

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.

Agreed fee

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?

Logistics

How should I return the completed work to you (email, etc)?

Additional information

Anything else of importance.