Editing vs. Proofreading


As you can see, editing and proofreading are two different stages of document preparation. Every author invariably hires a professional proofreading and editing service once he/she has finished writing the first draft of the document. The abundance of online proofreading and editing services makes it easy for authors for hire a second pair of eyes. However, to help you express your thoughts clearly and coherently, it is key that the editor and proofreader are familiar with not just your area of work but also the subject-specific conventions.

By definition, proofreading is a surface-level check. It is the final check performed on a document. A proofreader will look for misspellings, incorrect/missed punctuation, inconsistencies (textual and numerical), etc. Editing, on the other hand, corrects issues at the core of writing like sentence construction and language clarity. A thorough editing will help improve the readability, clarity, and tone of the text. An editor will scrutinize and polish your writing for a smooth narration.

The table below lists the main differences between proofreading and editing:

  Proofreading Editing
1. Performed on the final draft of the document Performed on the first draft of the document and continues till the draft is finalized
2. Addresses surface-level issues Addresses the core features of writing
3. Universally accepted, consistent definition Definition varies according to the scope of editing. Editage, for example, offers three different editing services.
4. Eliminates misspellings, grammatical and punctuation errors, inconsistencies, formatting errors, etc. Enhances the language by making changes for clarity, readability, and smooth narration.
5. Does not include word count reduction Includes word reduction, if required
6. Makes already good writing error-free Overall quality of writing is improved
7. Does not require much collaboration with the author Collaborative as it requires the editor to work with the author
8. Shorter turnaround time Slightly longer turnaround time (as the amount of work required is more)

When to choose a proofreading service?

You should opt for a proofreading service when

  • You are confident of the language and structure of your document and only require basic grammar check to eliminate misspellings, typographical errors, and punctuation errors
  • Your document has been edited and now needs to undergo a final check before submission


When to choose an editing service?

You should hire an editing service when

  • Your document needs substantial revisions for clarity, readability, and flow
  • You want to collaborate extensively with the editor to polish and refine your writing

Some online editing services offer proofreading as a separate service while some offer it as part of an editing service. Some specialize only in proofreading services. In other words, an editing service can include proofreading but a proofreading service does not include editing. However, both proofreading and editing are required to improve the quality of writing. Proofreading and editing services work on different aspects of your writing to transform your document, whether it is a research manuscript, an essay, or a grant proposal, into an eloquent and worthwhile written communication.

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