What is the difference between proofreading and editing?
Editing is an overall term for polishing and perfecting a text and getting it ready to print. There are different types of editing (see my post, Master the Editing Process), each with a specific purpose. Editing includes correcting the focus, organization, and development of the whole paper, sections, or paragraphs.
Proofreading is one part of the editing process. It is the last pass of a critical eye before the text goes to print. At this point in the text’s evolution, it should be free of content and copy errors.
Proofreaders examine the printer’s proofs or other written or printed material and mark any errors. The proofreader is looking at grammar, spelling, and sentence structure or other glaring errors that need correction.
In their work “How to Avoid Costly Proofreading Errors,” Carolyn Boccella Bagin and Jo Van Doren give several rules for improving your proofreading skills. I’ve also included a few of my own. Follow these suggestions to proofread like a pro:
- Print out a hard copy.
- Never proofread your own copy.
- Read everything in the copy straight through from the beginning to end.
- Read copy backward to catch spelling errors.
- Read pages out of order.
- Have proofreaders initial the copy they check.
- Use a blank sheet of paper to block out the lines before and after the targeted text.
- Take short breaks so you can concentrate more clearly.
- Alter your routine.
- Make your marks legible and understandable.
Still need some help? Check out ClearTips for instruction on a variety of grammatical subjects. Their website provides answers to your editing questions.
And don’t forget to use any electronic spelling and grammar checks that come with your writing software. Or you might install Grammarly onto your computer and web browser. It is my software of choice.
If you really would like to have a seasoned professional review your text, here are some listings of groups that offer proofreading services:
Servicescape.com Prices start at around $7/ page and go up according to turnaround time.
Proofreadingservices.com Prices start at around $6/ page.
Proofreadfingpal.com with prices at $.027/ word with a seven-day turnaround.
Give your manuscript the streamlined, professional edge it deserves. Happy proofreading!