Students understand that they must review and edit every piece of writing they produce before they submit those pieces in final form for a grade; content marketers and writers know that they have to review and edit their pieces before publishing them on websites, blogs or social media channels. And authors know that they must have an editor who will be proofing their works before they are finalized for publication.
The terms edit, proofreading and copy editing are thrown around a lot and used interchangeably but in reality, not that many people can tell what is the difference between revising and editing or proofreading and copyediting. But there are real differences in these activities. Let’s see if we can clarify this.
First the Difference Between Editing and Proofreading
If you are asking what is the primary difference between editing and proofreading, the short answer is this: editing involves looking at the “big” picture, while proofreading focuses on details.
Keeping this definition of edit vs. proofread in mind, let’s take a look at what is involved in each activity. The best way to do this is through a checklist of what should be done for each function.
Checklist for Editing
___ Is there a solid thesis statement, presented in the introduction?
___ Does content of each paragraph or section relate to the thesis statement? Is each paragraph or section introduced with a topic sentence that will be supported by details to follow?
___Is there a logical flow of points or ideas?
___Are there solid transitions between paragraphs or sections that tell readers where you are going next?
___Are the points or ideas organized in some way – from most important to least, or from least to most?
___Does the conclusion relate back to the thesis statement, through a summary of major points or perhaps a call to action?
Checklist for Proofreading
___ Is each sentence a complete one? Does it have a subject, verb, and a complete thought?
___Is there a variety of sentence types – simple, complex, and compound?
___Is the vocabulary correct for the audience? (Note: there is a big difference when writing a formal academic piece and blog post. There are differences among countries that all use English – the U.S., the UK, Australia, and Canada).
___Are all words spelled correctly? You may have a spell-check program, but it will not catch everything. For example, words to, two, and too will be deemed correct, but it may be wrong for what is written.
___Is the punctuation correct – have you used periods, commas, semi-colons, colons, and quotation marks correctly?
___If research resources have been used, as in-text and end-of-text citations correct for the required format style?
This editing and proofreading checklist should give you everything to look for as you polish any piece of writing on your own.
If you decide to do your own editing, you may want to practice some before you do it for real. There is a number of websites that offer editing and proofreading exercises for college students. You will find editing and proofreading worksheets which, over time, will develop your skills.
What is Copyediting?
People often confuse copyediting with regular proofreading. To understand what is copyediting vs. proofreading, read on.
Copyediting is actually the activity of one of three people who review an author’s work, usually a book. Once an author finishes a book, there are three editing/proofreading steps:
- The main editor reads the entire piece and looks at the big picture – does it flow well, are characters developed well, does the sequence of events make sense, are there any inconsistencies, etc.?
- The copyeditor looks for many of the same things that a proofreader does but a few additional things as well – spelling, punctuation, grammar, of course, but also fact-checking, and consistency of style.
- The proofreader reviews work after the final “proof” is ready but before it goes to press – still looking for typos and punctuation errors, but also for any layout issues – pagination, placement of any visuals, etc.
As you can see, copy editing vs. proofreading are terms that, first of all, apply to the type of writing being reviewed, and copy editing involves some additional types of review activities.
If you have written a book and are self-publishing, you will probably want to hire a copy editor. Your book will have the polish it needs. You will discover that copy editing services rates will vary somewhat. More experienced copy editors will charge more than newbies.
Can You Get Editing, Copyediting, and Proofreading Online?
The answer is absolutely yes. There is any number of freelancers who provide these services. The problem, of course, is finding one that is both expert and reliable. And there are also companies that focus only on these services. A Google show will show thousands of them, actually, because many of them are writing services that offer editing and proofreading services as part of their repertoire. Again, the problem is finding one that does a great job – you have to do the research and hope you get it right.
A Good Research Option – Writing Service Review Sites
Rather than hanging out there all alone trying to find the right proofreading editing services, you should check writing service review sites, like Top Writers Review, and look for the companies that are given high ratings in editing, copy editing, and proofreading. You will also be able to see what other customers of these services have to say about their experiences. You’ll have a much faster and more reliable source for your editing and proofreading needs.
Posted by Chris M.