Proofreading and editing: is there a difference?

November 24 00:08 2022

The questions under the spotlight today are the differences between editing and proofreading, when to go to a proofreader/editor, and whose work costs more.

Very often people ask the question “who can edit my essay?”. The answer is simple, a specialized proofreading service will help you. A proofreader and an editor are not always different people. In copywriting, for example, one person almost always does all the work. In book publishing, where mistakes are fraught with huge losses, these are two separate people (agree, correcting an error on an online store page is not the same as retyping 10,000 copies of a book).


Proofreading and editing: the differences

Tasks of the Proofreader

  • Cleaning the text for punctuation, grammar.
  • Visual design and making it look uniform.
  • Editing illustrations to size and title standards.
  • Checking the consistency of abbreviations (so that throughout the material was either the same or different) and correct numeral inflections (4th or 4th), as well as other nuances of spelling.

Editor’s tasks 

  • Stylistic editing, a deeper dive into the semantic component of the text.
  • Cleaning of tautology (repetitions), pleonasm (speech excesses) and other speech errors.
  • Re-formulation of sentences without loss of meaning in the name of a simpler perception or more logical content.
  • Evaluation of the whole text for simplicity and comprehensibility.
  • Recommendations for revisions.
  • Suggestions for changing the structure of the text or a better visual design, and so on.

Types of edits

The editor improves the form and content of the work. There are four known methods of editing:

1. Proofreading

The task of proofreading is to compare the text with the original, identifying and eliminating errors. The work of the editor during proofreading consists of:

  • correcting typos, errors and lapses;
  • fact-checking: checking own names, numbers, dates, quotations, etc.
  • Proofreading is used in editing or proofreading of official documents, reissue of books, historical materials.

2. Procrastination

The purpose of editing-shortening is to compress the work, but preserve the content. This kind of editing is necessary: 

  • when it is necessary to fit the text into a certain volume;
  • if there is too much “water” in the work – repetitions, excessive details, length, etc.

3. Editing

Editing-processing is used more often than other types. The editor uses such methods of working with the text as:

  • redrafting of fragments;
  • clarification of terms and phrases;
  • constructing a general logic;
  • Selection of arguments and justifications. 

The nuances of the style of the work are preserved, and the edits themselves are coordinated with the author.

4. Redrafting

If the work is written in poor literary language, for example, memoirs, scientific books or articles, the edit-remake is applied. In this case, the editor leaves the sequence of presentation of the material, stylistics and logic of the author. 

In editing texts, there are rules that are desirable to follow: 

The 1st rule is to understand the scope of the work. For example, for social networks the text should be bright and succinct, but for a book or article the artistic value will come to the fore;

The 2nd rule is to take care of the reader. Break the article into paragraphs, fragments and key phrases;

The 3rd rule is to highlight the main idea of the work in font or color;

The 4th rule is to read the text several times; there is always something to correct.

The most important thing is not to be guided by the phrase will read if he wants to. Respect for the reader is the golden rule of the editor.

And by the way, the editor’s services are more expensive precisely because the editor often performs proofreading functions, plus the differences between proofreading and editing are not so great.

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