When I first launched my business and talked about what I do with friends, the most common response was: “Aren’t proofreading and editing services the same?” They aren’t, but of course, it wasn’t obvious to me that some people think they are. So here’s a little article about how they are different.

Let’s start with proofreading

Proofreading refers to the final stage in the production of a document. Your content is written and you are ready to finalise your document and submit it for publication. When we proofread a document we are looking for errors and inconsistencies, specifically in regards to spelling, punctuation and grammar.

An example: some spelling errors stand out easily with the use of spell checkers, however an inconsistency may lie when you use an American version versus an English version of a word. This may not be necessarily picked up by an automatic spell checker.

How do proofreading and editing services differ?

Editing or copy editing services differ from proofreading because the purpose isn’t to check, but to change. Copy-editors are primarily concerned with changing content to improve it’s structure, readability and clarity. It’s about ensuring that the reader understands what the writer is trying to convey in their text.

An example: the most common mistake people can make is to write passively when they should be writing actively. Academic and bureaucratic documents are purposely written passively as that is usually the most accurate tone; however in all other industries, writing should be first person and active.

Why use proofreading and editing services?

I personally think it comes down to two things:

  1. A second pair of eyes will always pick up something you missed
  2. Using the services of an expert will reduce your stress levels as your due date looms

For more information read on to find out: why you need a professional proofreader and why you need a copy editor.