editing vs proofreading

What is the Difference Between Proofreading and Editing?

Imagine this: You’re a writer of a best-selling thriller book series and all of your readers are waiting for you to publish the next turn of events. One day, you wake up and have this thought about how the next scene should be. You have the option to go back to sleep or to begin the chapter. Surely, the writer in you would want to jump up and jot that idea down before it fades away into a drifting thought! The only thing you can think about is to get it out of your head and to put it into the paper. You won’t have the luxury of time to dot the “i’s” or cross the “t’s”, it is all about that one instantaneous thought.

Any written material is not a masterpiece until it has gone through the process of proofreading and editing. It’s a common misconception that editing and proofreading are one and the same. However, if one digs deeper into these processes, there is the realization that they are two different methods working together to produce quality output for the reader’s enjoyment. Without these two techniques, what you have will only be a draft and it won’t transform into the kind of material that you want your readers to experience. First, let us discuss their differences.


Editing refines the overall quality of the document to give the audience a pleasant reading experience. The editor must have a good grasp of the source and translated text to preserve and emphasize the intention, precision, and uniformity of the document. Moreover, an editor must be creative enough to appeal to the emotions of the readers and this task can require major changes to the original document. He must also have an eye for detail because he has to get into the nitty-gritty task of scrutinizing everything. According to Erica Sunarjo of Aces Editors, the editor looks into the following areas:

  • Clarity
  • Wording
  • Consistency
  • Terminology
  • Succinctness
  • Level of Formality


According to Flatworld Solutions, proofreading is perceived as a science because it identifies and rectifies the errors in grammar, spelling, and punctuation. When typing on a computer, spell checkers and grammar checkers are commonly embedded in the systems that we use, however, these features are not 100% correct and these can also overlook some mistakes and not all of the words in the English language are registered in the programs. The proofreader can spot errors in the following areas:

  • Grammar
  • Punctuation
  • Spelling
  • Format
  • Typographical errors
  • Readers’ demographics
  • Visual Consistency
  • Abbreviations and Expansions
  • Broken Website Links
  • Structuring of Sentences
  • Length of Text
  • Identifying Inappropriate Words and Phrases
  • Capitalization and Tense


Although there are software programs or online proofreading features, these are not 100% accurate and using a professional proofreader can contribute the influence and credibility. For a translator, proofreading is the final phase of the process. Without proofreading, a single comma or misspelled word can change the meaning of an entire article. This task is usually done in the final draft, after the document has been edited and it requires a shorter turnaround time.

The translator-proofreader’s first job is to read through both the original document and the translated document to make sure that the latter can be clearly understood. Second, he reviews the text for errors in grammatical and typographical errors. Lastly, the proofreader corrects the format and layout to meet the requirements of the translator. Proofreading is an indispensable task in translation because it ensures that the target audience can read it fluently and clearly.

Editing and Proofreading by Scribendi

When to consider editing or proofreading?

Now that we have covered the difference between editing and proofreading, let’s delve into the question of which service to choose. A lot of authors avail both of these services because editing enhances their document and proofreading polishes it. There are factors to when deciding on whether or not to avail of proofreading and editing services:

  1. Your level of expertise in writing in the target language: Is my level advanced? Are my skills close that of a native writer/speaker? Do I have a good grasp of the conventional writing techniques?
  2. Your target audience: Will my readers find this enjoyable and relatable? Am I able to appeal to their thoughts and emotions? Will this document capture their attention and interest?
  3. Your output’s quality: How often do I make grammatical and technical mistakes? Did I provide enough variety to my readers? What areas should I improve?

By answering the questions above, you can determine how much you need to proofread and edit. Also, depending on the nature of the document, you’ll know when you can do it on your own or when you need a professional to do it for you. For writers, these methods can be considered as routine procedures but what makes these tasks more challenging is when they are used in the translation industry. How so?

quality assurance

Translation-Editing-Proofreading (TEP)

TEP stands for Translation-Editing-Proofreading and what exactly does this imply? Since translators have the challenging task of converting sentences into other languages, they are also responsible for maintaining the message, the meaning, and the intention expressed in the original language – this is translating. Next, editing – this is where the translators confirm the interpreted words to ensure that they are in congruence with the meaning of the words in the original document. In this phase, they can also alter the content to match the mood of the writer. Lastly, proofreading – correcting the errors in spelling, grammar, and punctuation. The importance of TEP cannot be undermined because this is how translators communicate their messages across the world.

Therefore, regardless of what kind of writer you are, what genre you’re focused on, or who your audience is, editing and proofreading cannot be dispensed with because they will bring out the award-winning quality of your work. You may want to get published, you may want to gain more readers, and you may want to promote advocacy – whatever your purpose is, make proofreading and editing a habit. To end this article, I’d like to leave you with an altered quote from Emma Hill, “The first draft is black and white. Editing and proofreading give the story color.


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