Personal DevelopmentWritingUnderstanding the Difference between Editing and Proofreading | The Ready Writers

January 31, 2018by readywriters

Editing and proofreading (also called ‘proofing’) are often assumed to mean the same thing, and used interchangeably. But they are not. Nevertheless, both are inescapable processes a writer’s original manuscript has to go through. Even great writers need editors and proof-readers.

But what differentiates editing from proofreading? There is the famous story of the efforts of late President Eisenhower of the United States of America to write and publish an error free account of the Second World War, Crusade in Europe. Right from the beginning of the book project, he insisted on the need to ensure there were absolutely no errors in the book. The manuscript was meticulously copy edited and carefully read by six other people. Yet the very first sentence of the first page of the published book sported an error which everyone had missed.

Obviously, the error was not from the editor, but from the six proof-readers that read the manuscript. In publishing, a document that has been edited will still need to be proofed by someone who will go through the text with a fine-tooth comb. Let’s examine the differences.


A book editor’s job is to take a book idea from acquisition through to the finished book and beyond. Though it’s widely assumed that the editor’s main role is to correct grammar, his/her role also encompasses a few different facets critical to the success of the finished book.

A good editor will correct any obvious errors they come across, but their main goal is to use their expertise and intuition to ensure the document makes sense, either by cutting down on wordiness or clarifying any ambiguity.

In other words, editing involves:

·         Fixing grammar and punctuation mistakes.

·         Identifying inconsistencies, missing information or plot holes.

·         Identifying areas where more information or explanations are needed.

·         Ensuring Readability and flowmaking sure it all makes sense in order and is a cohesive full story.

·         Looking for repetitiveness, such as using “very” or “big” to describe most things, when a different word would have a bigger impact or flow better.


Proofreading, on the other hand, is the process of examining the final draft of a document or text — after it has been edited — to ensure there are absolutely no errors. A proof-reader will review for spelling errors, punctuation errors, typos or incorrect use of regional English (i.e. ensuring that you’re using American English or British English when necessary).

It’s crucial for a manuscript to be carefully proofed before it is published. For one thing, your brain will often read what you think you wrote or fill in details which either aren’t there or aren’t fully explained. For another, you simply may not notice if you’ve switched perspectives or from active to passive voice or use a lot of repetitive words.

In other words, the work of the proof-reader is to ensure zero grammatical deviation in a text. He goes beyond “spellcheck” to catch errors a computer might miss.

Hiring professional editors and proof-readers is absolutely necessary for a finished, professional, polished book.

Hire The Ready Writers today.

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