Editing, proofreading, copy editing–these are some of the most commonly misunderstood and interchanged terms. They are wrongly understood to mean the same thing. Let’s get it straight once and for all–they are not the same. They are as different as whether and weather, bear and bear.
Editing is to a text what tidying up a room is like, while proofreading is full-blown vacuuming of a previously tidied room. Editing involves improving the flow and overall quality of writing by removing redundant words, unnecessary sentences, rewriting paragraphs, correcting blatant errors and inconsistencies, and clarifying any ambiguity in the text. It involves ‘tidying up’ the text to improve its quality and readability, particularly with context to the use of language and expression. Editing involves following the conventions of English writing and the nuances of the language properly, right from picking up inconsistent terminology, sentence structure and spellings to making sure that the document flows in a sequential manner that makes sense to the reader.
Proofreading, on the other hand, involves scouring the document after editing for remaining errors, grammatical inconsistency, typos, spelling errors, punctuation and the use of regional grammar. It is akin to ‘vacuuming’ the edited document for any minor mistakes in terms of grammar. Proofreading is often considered less-ambitious as compared to editing, but it is equally important to create a document is readable with a consistent flow. Typos, wrongly placed punctuation, mixed use of regional spellings and commonly erred words (like ‘their, there, they’re’) break the reader’s flow, making a document an annoying read.
proofread? Here are some questions to help make the choice:
- What is the choice of words that have been used to express the ideas in the text?
- Is there uniformity in the use of active/passive voice in the text?
- Does the tone of the text match the context of the subject?
- Are there any superfluous words that can be replaced or removed?
- Has the gendered language been used appropriately?
- Any spelling errors?
- Has the punctuation been used correctly?
- Are there any double spaces or words with no spaces between them?
- Are there any random, lingering alphabets?
- Is the use of regional language consistent throughout the text?
Editing and proofreading play markedly different roles and are designed for different stages of the revision process of a document. It is an opportunity to improve a piece of writing,while proofreading is a final check of the written word to ensure perfection.
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