Editing vs Proofreading

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Candace Osmond

Candace Osmond studied Advanced Writing & Editing Essentials at MHC. She’s been an International and USA TODAY Bestselling Author for over a decade. And she’s worked as an Editor for several mid-sized publications. Candace has a keen eye for content editing and a high degree of expertise in Fiction.

Any competent writer knows that their writing needs to undergo editing or proofreading regardless of their expert writing skills. Do you need some kind of editor or a simple proofreader? It took me years to learn that answer for myself.

Whether you’re writing a book, term paper, or a personal document, proofreading and editing lead to different outcomes for writers. Find out the difference between an editor vs. a proofreader. 

Editor vs. Proofreader

The work of the editor and proofreader are separate in the traditional publishing industry. Yes, the line between both is blurring; here’s the difference between editing and proofreading in the English language.


Focuses on more comprehensive errors in writing

Conformity with the writing style and language clarity

Removes inconsistencies and redundancies

Fixes your writing quality and tone

Checks character development, plot, and theme in fiction writing

Checks if persuasive writing is persuasive enough

Ensures politeness and gender-inclusive language


Fixes spelling and typographic errors

Ensures your piece of writing adheres to grammar rules

Fixes punctuation mistakes for quality writing

Consistent notation and formatting of page numbers

Checks for common errors in running heads, table of contents, references, tables, and illustrations.

Double-checks word breaks

Querying any layout

There are different types of writers that choose between editing and proofreading. For example, most academics who are confident writers only need proofreading to remove mistakes in spelling and grammar.

An English as a Second Language writer may need editing because they need to correct more than grammatical errors. They might also require assistance with the cohesion and coherence of their writing and their conciseness. 

If you’re a book author or business writer, you may need editing and proofreading for your work. These two stages will lead to a mistake-free, high-quality document.

However, no hard-and-fast rules exist on which service they should get. The best editing and proofreading company should offer both to clients. 

Editing Explained

The term editing isn’t about correcting errors in spelling or grammar but improving the overall quality of your English writing. Aside from the formal writing conventions, editing focuses on the clarity, creativity, and tone of every sentence.

A professional editing company offers different types of editing, like academic editing and translation editing of any document. But here are some possible factors to consider:

  • Fixing inconsistency in language.
  • Changing from passive voice to active.
  • Adjusting the tone according to the audience.
  • Making a persuasive essay more persuasive.
  • Ensuring that fiction writers show proper character development and storyline. 

This process occurs before proofreading, playing a vital role in delivering your ideas. Editing also involves taking a closer look at the writing issues of your content using theories and facts from the subject. 

Once you’re done editing, your work should look and sound flawless, even if you’re a non-native English speaker. Your work is ready for proofreading. You may now check your writing for spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors. 

Proofreader Explained

Many language experts consider proofreading a science because it’s a systematic method based on the consistent rules of English. Proofreaders check documents for mistakes in spelling, grammar, punctuation, inconsistent terminology, and formatting before publication.

Proper proofreading tends to focus on correcting surface errors in writing, but it still requires specialized knowledge. Enough experience is also essential in professional proofreading to ensure the quality of writing.

These qualifications cannot be replaced by any person or online spell checker tool since humans can automatically correct errors in our brains. 

Have you ever tried to read a jumbled word so quickly that you don’t notice the typo? That’s one reason to get a professional proofreader.

Proofreading occurs after editing the work for tone, sentence length, and clarity. The final manuscript is analyzed one last time before being submitted to the publishing house.

Any written work needs proofreading services to ensure success in producing a mistake-free document. Whether you’re writing business documents or an academic essay,  your piece of writing may be prone to structural errors. 

What is the Big Difference Between Copy Editing and Proofreading?

Copy editing and proofreading both ensure that the writing adheres to cursory spelling, grammar, and capitalization rules. The most significant difference lies in the type of document being used and the delivery time to the proofreader or editor.

Copy editing is part of the revision process that checks grammar and spelling errors before proofreading. A freelance editor may rewrite some individual sentences or paragraphs on your initial draft to improve the piece.

This part of the editing process also includes checking for transitions between paragraphs and jargon. It also checks your work for wordiness and complex sentences. 

Proofreading occurs once you have the final draft or manuscript with all the designs and formatting. This step may also include the consultation of an online grammar checker to guarantee perfection before publication.

The proofreader works with the “proof” to look for formatting and numbering errors until the whole work is publication quality.

Tips for Editing

Here are some editing tips to make the entire writing process more manageable.


Does your essay include an introduction and conclusion? If you’re a fiction writer, does your story have an exposition and denouement? A proactive editor makes sure each paragraph is clear and related to the overall story.

Another editing tip to make your writing clearer is checking the logical sequence of your work. Make sure you’re using the correct number of transitional devices between paragraphs.


Editing concentrates on the core features of elements of writing. First, you need to ensure your article includes accurate claims and arguments. Your statements should also be complete with supporting details if you’re doing non-fiction or journalistic writing. 


The style of your writing is in charge of the author’s voice. Make sure you insert your personal style without committing language mistakes. 

Expert editors use appropriate gendered language. Check the length and structure of your sentence and if everything is in active voice.

You can also have a random person read your work to provide a fresh pair of eyes on your work.

Tips for Proofreading

Proofreading may seem easy because it only looks for objective language errors, but there are many rules to consider. 

Don’t Rely on Grammar and Spell Checkers

Sometimes, online editing software is enough for daily writing. But term papers and other critical writings require intensive proofreading by a professional. 

Manually check the actual document for grammar errors and typos. Some spelling checkers cannot detect if a piece of punctuation has incorrect placement. They also can’t tell the difference between “your” and “you’re.”

Read our review on Grammarly here.

Proofread One at a Time

Do not revise several error types at once. Try reading the whole text and looking for spelling issues first. Then, have another look at the document for grammatical errors. 

Keep doing this for formatting, punctuation, and design to make sure your piece of writing meets publication standards.

Read the Paper Backwards

Reading your paper backward helps you check your spelling more effectively. Begin with the final word on the last page and read each word separately. 

Which Service Do You Need?

I hope my article helped you make an informed choice between editing vs. proofreading service. Remember that editing occurs on the first draft, while proofreading is the final phase before publication. 

If you’re experiencing difficulty choosing between the two, you can find combined editing and proofreading services in editing companies.