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Difference between Editing and Proofreading

My experience of many years has taught me to always confirm with clients what exactly they require when they ask me to edit or proofread a text. This is because many people take them to mean the same thing and use them interchangeably. True, the two are closely related, but there are some basic differences between editing (sometimes referred to as ‘copyediting’) and proofreading.

Editing is assessing the quality of writing. It corrects the structural problems and brings style to the writing, pencil4sometimes by re-writing certain sections or paragraphs. It also corrects ambiguity, inappropriate use of words, tone, voice, grammar, punctuation, and spelling.

Proofreading is correcting the text to make it sound right, without making major changes to it. Proofreading involves correcting typos, grammar, punctuation, spelling, misuse of words, and other minor inconsistencies and inaccuracies.

You may have noticed that editing involves proofreading plus a lot more.

‘Whereas proofreading is technical, editing is creativity.’ Do you agree with this statement?


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2 Responses

  1. This is really helpful – I do agree that you and the client need to understand what they are asking you to do. I love copyediting but not so keen on (or so good at) proofreading. Maybe this is because I read quite fast. I just don’t pick up the little mistakes.

    Jane Smith


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