Difference between editing and proofreading


Editing and proofreading are often confused to be the same entity. It is no big deal since both are intricate steps of any writing process. Both are done when the writing is done and are is important to create perfect and completely error-free content. As much similar as they seem, the job of an editor differs from the job of a proofreader to a great extent.

If you break down the writing process, you will get three parts. The first step is obviously writing. Then comes editing and finally the proofreading part. The concept still may seem confusing. Let’s clear the confusion!

The definitions

Editing, in simple terms, means checking an article thoroughly to ensure that it has all the information it needs and it carries the essence or theme of the article. Proofreading means spotting and fixing any grammatical, spelling and typing errors in any written piece.

The differences

Editing and proofreading, both are done with the same intention and that is to make writing perfect. The key differences between editing and proofreading lie in their mechanisms.

What does an editor do?

Once the writing is done, the job of an editor begins. Depending on the type of writing, the editor needs to evaluate the writing based on some parameters. Here are the parameters an editor must look for.

  • Topic: Whether or not the key topic of the writing has been established in the written piece.
  • Information: Whether or not the piece has enough information to shed proper light on the message of the piece.
  • Structure: Whether or not the piece has proper structure, like ‘introduction-body paragraphs-conclusion or headings and subheadings.
  • Cohesion: Whether or not the piece is developed in a systematic manner creating proper cohesion.
  • Tone: Whether or not the tone is adequate enough in engaging the audience.
  • Grammatical errors: Whether or not the piece is free of grammatical and spelling errors.

These parameters keep changing based on the audience of an article as well. An article written for a website is evaluated differently than a script written for a video.

What does a proofreader do?

The proofreader looks for any mistake in the grammar and spelling section along with fixing the mistakes. He or she doesn’t need to bother about any of the parameters mentioned earlier. Be it an article for a website or a script for a video, it’s all the same for a proofreader.

Which requires rewriting?

If an article requires rewriting, it will be done during the editing. If the editor feels that the article lacks something or needs a few changes here and there, he may do it himself or ask the writer to make the necessary changes. Hence, the editor is in constant contact with the writer.

Proofreading doesn’t involve any rewriting since it looks for grammatical and typing errors only. There is almost no connection between the proofreader and the writer.

Which is more time-consuming?

Since editing requires more evaluation than proofreading and sometimes, rewriting takes place, editing is definitely more time-consuming than proofreading. Not only time, but editing also requires more effort. An editor goes in the depth of an article, whereas, a proofreader walks on the surface.

Proofreading necessarily need not to come last. Once a writer is finished with an article, he can and most importantly should proofread the piece before the submission. But, if we look at the writing process as a whole, proofreading comes at the end. Based on what the editors and proofreaders do, as discussed earlier, the list of differences between their jobs are quite different. Not playing any favourites, but the editors have to go a mile or two further than the proofreaders!

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