Editing vs Proofreading: What’s the Difference?
Editing and proofreading seem so similar.
But the closer you look, the more you’ll see that the 2 are vastly different.
This is the golden era of communication skills and creating media.
There is so much technology out there to be a creator.
As a writer in this era, realize it’s different from back in the day.
Back in the day, you’d get an agent.
Give them your manuscript.
The publishing company will give you edits to make.
Or they would edit it for you.
They would have the content proofread.
Then the final product was published.
In this era?
You’re most likely responsible for the entire writing lifecycle.
In this article, you will learn what the writing lifecycle is.
Then you will appreciate how vastly different editing and proofreading really are.
The Writing Lifecycle
Let’s keep it simple:
To dumb it down a bit more, it’ll be:
Creating is when you get your ideas from:
- Mind to reality.
Editing is when you make your writing sound pleasant for the consumer.
Proofreading is when you double-check that your sentences don’t have grammar and spelling errors.
Difference Between Editing and Proofreading
A film director usually records a lot of film for a movie.
They have the:
‘Let’s just shoot it. It may come in handy later,’ mentality.
But that’s not what you see on the movie screen, right?
In the movie, you see a few strategic scenes that are meant to be pleasant to the viewer.
Imagine seeing all the content that the film director was recording during the shooting session.
It’s like that with writing too.
In the creation portion, writers write a lot.
They have the:
‘Let’s just add the content in. It may come in handy when I’m editing,’ mentality.
Once they are done with the rough draft, they are like the film director who says:
- ‘Eliminate this scene.’
- ‘This scene is dragging out, shorten it.’
- ‘Put this scene here instead of there.’
Editing is cleaning up your work to make it sound more conversational.
‘Now I know what editing is. But what is proofreading?’
Proofreading is what I call the final touches.
This is something that can be automated.
There are services like Fiver and Upwork where you can hire a proofreader.
They will read through the content to make sure you are spelling your words correctly and using them according to the grammar rules.
- It’s not ‘your having a bad day.’
- It’s ‘you’re having a bad day.’
Diving Deeper into the Difference Between Editing vs Proofreading
There is this common phrase out there:
Editing is where great writers are born.
This statement has a lot of truth to it.
It signifies how important editing is.
‘Are you saying proofreading is not as important as editing?’
That’s not what I’m saying at all.
Both are important.
But here’s how I look at it…
Editing is a more interactive process for a writer.
Sure, it can be automated if we are thinking about old-school publishing models.
But in new media, automating the editing in the early stages (or if at all) is very dangerous.
Editing is where you make eye contact with your mind.
You see gaps in understanding.
You see where you made beautiful points.
And you get to truly master the craft of writing.
Editing allows you to understand how communication works.
What’s signal and what’s noise.
I think automating something like this is dangerous because editing has a lot of spirit involved.
It’s the essence of a writer.
With that being said, I think it’s even smart to proofread your own content in the beginning stages.
That’s when you have a perspective of the ENTIRE writing lifecycle.
However, proofreading your own writing does not lead to a 100% success rate.
You’ll go through the entire writing multiple times and be like:
‘Yes, I got everything!’
All for a reader to be like:
‘Great article! Just wanted to let you know that you misspelled these 2 words.’
Writing in Stages
A novice writer tries to:
- Create, edit, and proofread at the same time.
That’s how they turn a 1-hour task into a weeklong task.
Not only that, but when trying to do all 3 at the same time, the novice begins to hate writing.
It becomes a chore.
But when you separate the 3 stages into 3 stages, that’s when writing becomes an adventure.
You’ll see each stage has a different identity.
Creation is fearless.
Editing is ruthless.
Proofreading is meticulous.
A child is fearless.
That’s because they have fun.
In creation, add in anything that suits the theme of the writing.
Editing is when the adult side comes out.
This is the adult who is like:
‘No Billy, you can’t have dessert until you finish your broccoli.’
This is when you are getting rid of junk and enforcing some rules.
Proofreading is meticulous.
It’s following the rules.
Capitalizing the right words.
Using commas appropriately.
Avoiding grammar mishaps.
Each stage is an identity of its own.
Each identity makes up the craft of writing.
Practicing the Writing Craft
Writing is a skill set that can be learned forever.
What other skill can you be like:
‘I’ll get better with age.’
If you say that in basketball, it may be true for a while.
Until father time comes knocking.
But with writing…
It’s a mental sport.
You only get better the more you write and the more experiences you accumulate!
Therefore, understand the importance of editing and proofreading.
Both are needed.
But beware of viewing them as the same.
For more practical tips on how to become a better writer, be sure to check out my book:
- Get to the Point: A Beginner’s Guide to Essay Writing, Critical Thinking Skills & Logical Analysis
This book will teach you :
- How to brainstorm effectively.
- Research like a winner.
- Create a quick rough draft.
- Edit ruthlessly.
- And proofread meticulously!
Grab a copy here: