Isn’t Editing the Same as Proofreading?
The differences between editing and proofreading can be misunderstood. Some question whether they are actually the same, or ask for one when they mean the other. They are actually markedly different services.
The most obvious way to differentiate between the two services is in terms of time and effort – proofreading is a relatively faster service whereas editing takes more time.
Proofreading focuses on ensuring the document is ready for final printing or publishing. It’s the final once over. The focus is on the way the document is formatted, a trained glance to check for typos and to ensure all words are spelled correctly, as well as comparing it to any master version or list of requirements. It is generally the “last step” in the process, done days before final deadline. It is when the document in it’s complete form, a final tick of approval before the print button is pressed.
Editing, however, should never be the “last step” in your timeline, it should be prioritised. It should generally be performed across a number of days, or even weeks for substantial projects. There is often a lot of “back and forth” between the Editor and the client, garnering more information, answering queries and clarifying intended meaning. A good Editor will help you bring out the real meaning behind your words, will bring your message to light in a clear and pleasant form.
The editing process varies in type; it can be a copy edit where the words and expression are the focus, a substantive edit where the words, expression and paragraph structure are all considered, or a structural edit, where the overall design and order of the document is analysed.
Sarah Smith WORDSMITH