Editing vs Proofreading

Editing vs Proofreading

Many writers get confused by editing and proofreading. Notice how I've put editing before proofreading? There is a reason. It will become clear later. To make things more confusing - there are many types of editing. In this article, we will look at the differences between editing and proofreading.

If you have written an article, document or a book, but are unsure what to do next? You are not alone. The different types of editing, and not forgetting proofreading.

Proofreading can be thought of as a form of editing. They are not the same.

Both ProWritingAid and Grammarly Editor offer free help to check your draft manuscript. Worth trying them out.

Both applications are fine, but nothing can beat a ‘human’ editor or proofreader.

You may need an editor, a proofreader, or both. I will explain the distinction.

Do you want to produce a professional piece of writing? You need to have your writing edited and proofread.

What Is The Difference?

The first draft is complete. The editor takes over. The editor has control of the writing from the rough draft until the final version is ready. An ongoing process, hammering out word, sentence or paragraph changes. Then the proofreader grabs the document, the final draft. Any last errors in spelling or grammar are hunted down. Now your work is ready for publishing. Congratulations!

What Issues?

It is not essential to know the different types of editing. Developmental, evaluation, copy, line, and content editing. Know only, they need to be completed.

Each task looks at something different. The editing process is about making sure that the writing is aligned. It must form a structured layout, it must flow, of course, it must make sense, and has an arc. The beginning, middle, and end. It can be macro editing. This is the big picture. Or micro editing, which means individual chapters, paragraphs, and even down to sentences.

Proofreading then points out any mistakes. That has been missed in the editing process. Proofreading is about finding those crafty spelling and grammar errors. And making sure it all comes together tidily. There will not be any title, heading, or page number inconsistencies, bad line and page breaks. Proofreading is a bit like copy editing.


Editing is more about looking at the whole text. Then addressing the writing’s main issues. Proofreading is more technical, formatting, punctuation, spelling, and grammar.

Where to Improve

Editing is about taking an average piece of writing and turning it into something worth reading. Something ‘solid’ that makes sense. This is not why you proofread. When you proofread a book, you are looking for remaining errors and inconsistencies. But proofreading is carried out on an already ‘readable’ piece of writing.

Cut Down Words

Editing often involves removing unnecessary words. Getting rid of cliches, which may be seen as frivolous. Editing usually reduces the word count. When you proofread, you don’t remove any words, but you make sure that there are no errors.


One of the biggest differences between editing and proofreading concerns collaboration. Unless you edit your text, the writer and editor have to work together throughout the editing phases. There is a lot of back-and-forth movement that goes on between both parties.

Editors and writers work together. However, with proofreading, there is no collaboration.

A proofreader finds errors, and the writer can then correct those errors. Often the proofreader corrects obvious slips in spelling or grammar. Editing sees a lot of collaboration. Because it involves changing the writing. Whereas proofreading is about surface appearances.

Time Spent?

Editing is an in-depth process. It improves the document’s quality in every way, so, there is a lot of too and fro. It all takes time. Proofreading rarely involves more than reading the text to spot mistakes. It does not (or should not) take too long.


As you can see, there are some differences between proofreading and editing. Many would say that proofreading is the final stage of editing. It is the last task to spot any remaining errors or inconsistencies, those not spotted in the editing process.

Good luck - keep writing!

Check out www.writebetterokay.com

Any questions? Mail me at: writebetterokay@gmail.com

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