What Is the Difference Between Editing and Proofreading?

What Is Editing and How Can You Differentiate It from Proofreading

Have you ever been given a task to proofread a document and confused it with editing? If yes, do not worry, it often tends to happen to the best of us. These two words are sometimes used interchangeably but have very different meanings.

However, they both may work individually or simultaneously to bring about the same results – improving a piece of writing and making it as easy to read as possible. As you read further on, in this article you will find answers regarding these two terminologies and a clear explanation of the difference between editing and proofreading.


Difference Between Editing and Proofreading

Literary and language experts claim that the difference between editing and proofreading is that editing is an art while proofreading is a science, and we agree. Editing helps ensure that the overall quality of the said piece of writing is improved. While proofreading does not make major changes in the text, editing may bring about major changes. Always ask yourself the following questions to know the extent to which your piece needs to be edited.

  • Did you use passive voice to write your piece?
  • Does your article have lengthy sentences and/or unnecessarily repetitive words?
  • Is your article written in the appropriate tone, according to the context?
  • Does your article contain the appropriate vocabulary to convey your message?
  • Could you have used a better persuasive tone to address your argument?

Editing is on a deeper level relative to proofreading. It works in a way to make sure the final product of your writing is comprehensive amongst its audience. Editing requires a close assessment of the content to figure out what is lacking and adjust it accordingly.

Only professionals who have experience in editing pieces of all sorts can know an unusual tone, or the lack thereof, in one read. Their knowledge does not just limit to clarifying text by correcting spelling, grammar, and the general sentence structure, but may also extend to double-checking facts and statistics in some cases. The following is usually categorized under the job of an editor:

  • The modifying tone for impact and consistency
  • Managing layout and graphic inserts in the content
  • Checking for genuineness and validity of facts and statistics mentioned
  • Improving content quality
  • Ensuring a proper word flow
  • Clarifying language and ideas

If for some reason, you don’t want to hire an editor and are inclined towards doing the editing work yourself after writing, we suggest setting your content work aside for at least two days after finishing it. By revisiting your text after days, you will be starting with a fresh mind and will more likely be able to see parts that need editing more clearly.


Difference Between Proofreading and Copy Editing

The difference between proofreading and editing lies mainly amongst their types and methods. Unlike editing, this does not take as much creativity. It is, however, an important step to attaining a writing masterpiece. Proofreading focuses mainly on surface errors and does certainly not go as deep as editing. The surface errors could be as simple as spellings, punctuation, and grammar blunders or a little complex as maintaining consistency of tone, formatting throughout, and perfecting the writing. Although it looks like proofreading is not a demanding job, the proofreader is also expected to be professionally qualified and skilled to identify the tiny errors, which are otherwise ignored by a casual reader.

The tasks commonly performed by a proofreader include:

  • Checking that all links in a piece of content are functional
  • Checking for grammar and spelling mistakes
  • Checking for plagiarism
  • Verifying that the content writing adheres to the appropriate style guide
  • Fixing improper word choices

This proves one of the core differences between editing and proofreading; the proofreader has a much narrower set of tasks, all on the superficial level. Only those who understand the nuances of the English language are qualified to be proofreaders.

The following four types of proofreading practices are available in the market:

1. Academic Proofreading

Academic proofreading includes proofreading the work of students, researchers, and professors in the field of academics. Often researchers and professors need a quick solution to oversee their pieces of writing and proofread last-minute citations, endnotes, footnotes, quotations, and reference lists. With the privilege of hiring academic proofreaders, their content can be properly formatted as per the required style guide.

Academic articles to be published in journals, college applications, essays, personal statements, dissertations, research papers, and statements of purpose benefit a great deal from this type of proofreading. However, in some fields of academia, getting one’s work proofread may be a prohibition, or worse, illegal. These fields may include English literature courses, ESL, etc.

2. Business Proofreading

This includes proofreading the content that is written by business owners or is related to a particular business in any regard. They may involve user manuals, reports, emails, newsletters, press releases, grant proposals, resumes, and blog posts.

Customers are likely to not take your business seriously if your articles have a fair amount of spelling and grammatical errors. Hence, to offer guaranteed products, it is essential for business retailers and owners to ensure that their marketing blogs are published after being thoroughly proofread.

Business proofreading is not just restricted to catering to a group of business dealers. It may also include hiring a second pair of eyes for a job seeker. This type of proofreading not only improves business writing but may also help someone seal their job position by fixing superficial errors in their resume.

3. Print Media Proofreading

Commonly revolving around proper formatting; print media proofreading works best for self-publishing authors or publishers. Typeset documents are technically proofread with a hard copy or PDF. Either way, when those working in the print media department proofread the said document, it may be printed as books and e-books, directories, greeting cards, magazines, newspapers, screenplays, etc.

Flagging widows (the short final line of a paragraph that spontaneously appears at the top of the next page), designing appropriate margins, word breaks, and correct page number sequences, ensuring consistent formatting, and double-checking table of contents, indexes, and appendixes are also categorized under the roles of a print media proofreader.

4. Translation Proofreading

This type of proofreading gives us a more vivid idea of the differences between proofreading and copy editing. This type of proofreading involves proofreading a document that has been translated from one language to another. One of the most common examples of this could be translating a document from a google translator or any online service provider and getting sentences that seem a bit off in their sentence structures. With One Content Pro, experience the best translation proofreading services at affordable rates! You may choose from either monolingual or bilingual proofreading, according to your needs.

The language of the original document is known as the source language, while that of the final document is called the target language. A monolingual technical proofreader deals solely with the target language whereas a bilingual technical proofreader works with the source and target language while comparing the original text language with the final one.


The popular trick to achieving the best draft is to edit first and then follow it up with proofreading right before you hand in your work. Now that you know the differences between proofreading and copy editing, ask for help from a friend or anyone who could give you constructive criticism from a different perspective.

If you are looking to hire a professional editor to engage your audience with your content further, check out our professional editing services and get started today! If, however, you are simply looking for someone to technically proofread your work, you may sign up and start a live chat with one of our support staff to guide you through the process.