Difference between Proofreading and Editing: Tips from Experts

You have just finished working on your essay or a research paper? - Congratulations on that! However, you are mistaken if you think this is the final stage of your work process. Before you submit your academic paper to your professor, make sure that you edit and proofread it carefully. It is strongly recommended to double-check if there are any inconsistencies in writing or structural flaws before you hand in your document. When you do that, you will definitely increase your chances of success. The question is: do you need to edit or proofread your paper? Or maybe both?

Importance of Finding a Difference between Proofreading and Editing

Since many people use these two concepts in the same context, it is advisable to find a clear difference between proofreading and editing so that you definitely know which one you need for your paper. Despite being used interchangeably, these terms are different since they are not even aimed at delivering the same end result.

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Many people do not understand the clear difference, so if you want to be able to improve your academic writing, you should delve deeper into the issue. This article has the purpose of providing you with a brief and concise synopsis of these two different processes: editing and proofreading. So, if you want to know what they involve, read on the article carefully. The article is based on the rich experience of professional writers and editors who know for sure how to make a paper excellent and impeccable in quality. So, read on and get general tips and guidelines on how to edit and proofread your paper.

What Is Editing?

When you think, “OK, I need to edit my paper right now,” you should clearly understand what is editing. So, what steps does it involve? What is its essence? Editing can be also called copy-editing, subediting, copyediting, and even line editing. Whenever you come across these words somewhere on the Internet or some writing guidelines, be sure that they are talking about editing.

Whereas proofreading can be metaphorically compared to science, editing in its essence is more of an art. When you are editing, you need to use not only your theoretical and practical skills gained over the course of studying but also some creativity and unique thinking. When you are in the process of editing a paper, you are not only looking for mistakes – you are actually improving the general quality and readability of your writing, as well as improving the core idea.

What You Should Do in the Process of Editing

When you are editing a paper, you need to focus on the following paper characteristics:

  • Clarity. The message should be clearly conveyed. It should be obvious from the sentences that you are writing about. Besides, you should ask yourself a question of whether the text is understandable for the target audience.
  • Coherence. Are all the parts of your writing logically coherent with each other?
  • Continuity. The ideas should be continuously flowing from one part to the other. Thus, you should ensure that the text is smooth and logical.
  • Content. Apart from being clear, the message should be appropriate to the needs of target readers. Besides, it should have a specific sim: being informative, descriptive, persuasive, etc.
  • Voice. The text should sound in an appropriate manner as well. When checking on this criterion, make sure that proper vocabulary is used.

So, when you edit a document, you should mark errors in spelling, grammar, and punctuation, and make sure the style and tone of writing adhere to your instructions and style guidelines. When editing, it may be also recommended to focus on the fact-checking process.

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It means that whenever you use some specific information, such as statistics, names, years, and other numbers, you need to provide their verification. The aim of editing your paper is not only to make the text flawless but also logical and consistent when it comes to ideas representation. The text has to suit the needs of the target audience and be clear in terms of ideas.

The Editing Process: Skills You Need to Learn

Despite the fact that editing sounds like a challenging and immense task to cope with, it can be easily learned like any other skill. All you need to have is sufficient information on how to do it and time to practice it. Check out how to start developing this skill:

1. Organization.

  • You need a clearly written introduction and a conclusive paragraph.
  • When it comes to the main body, you have to come up with clear transitions and make sure that each body paragraph starts with a topic sentence.
  • The main idea should be directly conveyed, so formulate your thesis statement at the end of the introduction in a clear and argumentative manner. When supporting the main idea, come up with sufficient evidence taken from credible sources.
  • Clarity should be maintained in the paper, so when needed, provide definitions and explanations of some professional jargon or technical terms.

Paper Proofreading: The Essence of the Process

While the editing process may entail some rewriting with the aim of improving some paragraphs, the paper proofreading process comes right after it and focuses on the paper layout and making changes in the language used. In other words, the proofreading process does not influence the very message of the paper in any way. Still, it can focus on formatting and citation styles.

 

When you are proofreading your paper, it is necessary to pay attention to what style is required by the professor`s instructions. It can be APA, MLA, Chicago, Harvard, and others. Following the requirements of any of these styles, you should then focus on the key area of proofreading:

  • Grammar. Are the word chunks, phrases, and structures used in your paper correspond to the writing style and academic level of complexity?
  • Punctuation. Are all punctuation marks put in a correct way?
  • Spelling. Do the words have proper spelling? Do you have any commonly confused words in your paper?
  • Formatting. Is the text readable? Is it easy to trace the general idea? Does your text have sufficient headings and subheadings?
  • References. Are the in-text citations, footnotes, and endnotes properly formatted? Are all page numbers properly put? Is the table of contents valid?

Components of Proofreading

  1. You have to check the whole paper, page numbering, table of contents, running heads, bibliography, and the list of references, as well as any appendices used.
  2. You have to find and correct any possible grammar, punctuation, and spelling mistakes; typos; errors in the word usage and sentence structure; the usage of different font types and styles.
  3. You have to check on the word and sentence breaks throughout the document and whether they affect the paper readability.
  4. You need to make the text match the given writing style.
  5. You have to check all hyperlinks and web links.
  6. You need to check all tables, graphs, figures, and illustrations and make sure they conform to the text message.

After you finish editing your paper for content inconsistencies, switch over to the proofreading stage, where you will eliminate errors in order to avoid potential revisions. As in the case of editing, you have to approach the proofreading process systematically.

Organization of the Proofreading Process

1. Make sure you have ample time.

  • It is close to impossible to find all errors and correct them while proofreading the paper for the first time.
  • Try reading your paper out loud – it will make the process of finding mistakes more effective.

2. Divide the piece of writing into formal sections and proofread each of them one by one.

  • When you divide the text into logical parts, you will maintain your attention span on smaller chunks of text, and will thus prove to be more effective.

3. Highlight errors that you frequently come across.

  • Highlighting mistakes will help you draw your attention to the ones you make frequently. As such, you will avoid them in your future works.

Editing vs Proofreading Processes: Find the Difference between Them

  1. Organization of the process. Editing is done first. Proofreading is normally done after the editing process.
  2. Changes. Editing focuses on making the major changes in the text (they usually refer to the structure and revision process), whereas proofreading is aimed at improving paper mechanics.
  3. Functions. Editing focuses on the structure, consistency, and coherence of ideas and structural elements. Proofreading is focused on the logical consistency, paper layout, and the usage of references.
  4. Layout. Editing does not have to do anything with checking the layout, whereas the proofreading process aims at checking its consistency.
  5. Role. The main role of editing is to guarantee excellent quality of the text, whereas the role of proofreading is to make sure that you, as a writer, haven`t missed any important elements.
August 31, 2020
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