The Difference Between Editing and Proofreading

Editing and proofreading are often used interchangeably. However, the two are different in some important ways. This guide sets out the difference between editing and proofreading so that you can better evaluate which one (or both) would suit you best and make an informed choice as to what your require.

What is editing?

Editing is a process that involves improving the quality and clarity of your writing. It focuses on language use and expression and ensures that your writing comes across as natural and suited to the particular discipline, genre or topic your writing falls into. Most importantly, good editing will preserve the author’s individual voice while making changes to the language or style.

What is proofreading?

Proofreading is a process that involves correcting grammatical, spelling, punctuation errors. A professional proofreader is a valuable asset; he or she is methodical and can identify common errors, inconsistent terminology and formatting errors. Proofreading enhances the clarity of your writing because clear writing demands no distracting spelling, grammar or punctuation errors.

Should you choose editing or proofreading?

Editing and proofreading normally come at different stages in the editorial process. Proofreading usually happens right at the end and acts as a ‘final check’ to ensure your manuscript is in perfect form. Editing would occur before proofreading.

Ask yourself: do I like the quality of my writing? If the answer is no then editing would generally be the best alternative. If the answer to the question is yes then proofreading would generally be appropriate instead of editing.

There are some exceptions to these general rules, however. Book authors should generally go for editing rather than proofreading. The traditional publishing market and the self-publishing and e-book markets are so competitive that it’s highly likely your competition has had the benefit of professional editing.

Academic publications can also benefit from editing as it will improve writing quality, the flow of arguments and conformity with style, formatting and footnoting conventions.

Businesses may choose an editing service depending on the level of importance of the document or where the author of the document is not a confident writer or multiple authors have had input to one document.

If you have already received professional editing, are totally confident with your writing or just require a mistake-free document then proofreading would be the appropriate service.

rand31 provides editing, proofreading and writing services to clients in Australia and overseas.